Ramaphosa praises media for exposing Covid-19 excesses
Johannesburg – South Africa’s media has played a key role in combating Covid-19, in part by exposing wrongdoings around the country’s response to the pandemic, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday.
In a weekly newsletter, Ramaphosa also said South Africa had done relatively well in containing the spread of the disease primarily because of the co-operation and vigilance of all citizens.
“This is in no small part due to the sterling work of our media… Our media have also shone a light on excesses that perhaps would not have ordinarily come to light,” he said.
“They have fulfilled their watchdog role by unearthing acts of corruption and maladministration, sparking a massive national debate and leading to a number of high-profile investigations.”
Ramaphosa’s spokeswoman, Khusela Diko, in July went on special leave after a newspaper report said her husband had received part of a R2.2 billion Covid-19 personal protective equipment tender awarded to 75 companies by Gauteng province's health department.
Ramaphosa ordered the country’s Special Investigating Unit to investigate this and all other allegations of corruption around the government's spending towards the coronavirus.
The media has also reported on state security personnel’s heavy-handedness in enforcing a government lockdown imposed from March 27 to try to curb Covid-19 transmissions.
This includes the death of Collins Khoza, a resident of Johannesburg's Alexandra township, at the hands of soldiers and metro police after a severe beating for allegedly breaking the rules.
On Monday, Ramaphosa noted, however, that the media industry, like all other sectors of the economy, had taken a hit from the health crisis, which some publications losing as much as 60 percent of their income in the early days of the lockdown.
“The job losses that have resulted from the lockdowns have exacerbated a crisis for media companies already facing challenges like loss of advertising revenues, falling circulation and market share being taken by mobile-first news and other technologies,” he said.
“The private sector must also continue to support the industry through advertising and working with media houses in the production of innovative content in line with global media trends.”
“Local philanthropic and donor organisations should also come on board and support public interest journalism ventures, as is the case in many democracies,” Ramaphosa added.
African News Agency (ANA)