Free press indispensable in a constitutional democracy

Adv Anton Alberts

The media in South Africa plays a huge role in holding authority structures accountable and is of the greatest importance in a constitutional democratic system, Adv. Anton Alberts, the FF Plus’ parliamentary spokesperson on Communication says.

Adv. Alberts says the new calls to regulate the press through the issuing of licences to journalists which were made by Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the acting chief operating officer of the SABC and Blade Nzimande, minister of higher education are repeats of similar statements made by the ANC.

He said the press had adjusted its self-regulating procedures to the satisfaction of everybody but the government.

“These latest comments are important. It infringes on the freedom of speech and is an over-reaction on the side of government because the media in South Africa plays a big role as watchdog for the public and to call authority structures to order.

“The FF Plus itself has been at the receiving end of the media, but despite this, we support the right of the media to investigate issues and to criticise as it is their right within a constitutional democracy.

“As part of the self-regulation, a press ombudsman was established to prevent unfair and un-reasonable journalism and this channel can be used instead of regulating the media externally.

“There are various examples in just the past couple of weeks alone about the effectiveness of the press ombudsman.

“Motsoeneng, who clearly acts as the ANC hand in the SABC, as well as Nzimande, could ask themselves how they would feel if they were no longer part of government, but part of the opposition with a media which only favours the government,” Adv. Alberts says.


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