Listen: Independent responds to Zille
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In an interview today with 702's Steven Grootes, Independent Media's Chief of Staff Zenariah Barends responded to the decision by the Cabinet of the Western Cape Government not to renew its subscriptions to the Cape Times.
Independent Media today also issued a press release in response to the decision. The press release is included in full below:
Independent Media has noted, with concern, an extraordinary directive from the Cabinet of the Western Cape Government (WCG) not to renew its subscriptions of the Cape Times.
While we respect any reader or organisation’s right to choose to consume the publication of their choice for whatever reason, the manner in which this directive from Helen Zille’s provincial government’s Cabinet has been issued, is an unprecedented abuse of power and completely unacceptable.
The nature of the top-down instruction and deliberate move by Zille, the leader of the opposition and the Premier of the Western Cape, to dictate the position she personally holds to all her departments, on the basis of editorial quality which she has not directly engaged us on, is particularly disturbing.
Ms Zille supposedly values editorial independence and freedom of expression in the media, yet chooses to dictate to her departments what their position should be, which we find extremely problematic and hypocritical.
All the editors in the Independent Media stable are open to engagement with its readers and subscribers. It is a pity that Helen Zille and her officials did not use this opportunity before embarking on their decision, which we believe, goes against the promotion of a free press. It is our hope that other provincial governments do not take such actions against other media.
The Cape Times is currently undergoing a period of considerable transition. It is a title with a very proud history as Cape Town’s premier morning newspaper, but one also with a painful recent history of racial inequality and discrimination, symptomatic of the state of transformation in South Africa’s broader media industry, which our company is committed to addressing head-on.
Under its new editor, Aneez Salie, and his diverse team of journalists, the editorial focus of the Cape Times, now in its 139th year, is becoming more inclusive and representative of many readers formerly excluded from the publication. This is aligned to our view that a diversity of viewpoints is essential for the promotion of a flourishing and dynamic democracy.
It is important to note that, unlike the performance of many other newspapers throughout the country, the Cape Times has seen a growth in circulation over the past quarter. Sales are on the increase and this is indicative of the growth strategy that we have put in place for the publication.