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Row over govt`s plan to regulate South Africa media

There is growing fears that the government is seeking to muzzle the press as the ruling ANC party supports the formation of media regulations in South Africa.



Johannesburg: There is growing fears that
the government is seeking to muzzle the press as the ruling
ANC party supports the formation of media regulations in South
Africa.

The African National Congress is in the final stages
of deciding on a Media Appeals Tribunal, while parliament is
mulling the Protection of Information Bill, which mediapersons
claim would limit investigative news coverage.

According to the ruling party, the media tribunal,
first mooted in 2007, aims to adjudicate complaints on media
reports so that mediaperson are legally accountable.

Media reports on lavish spending by the government,
particularly on luxury vehicles, have irritated the ruling
ANC.

There is growing concern among mediapersons and civil
society over the government`s move, many comparing it to "the
dark days of apartheid". Critics say the ANC would be
recreating the restrictions of the past with the Protection of
Information Bill, criticised even within the party, which is
currently in parliament.

Media houses have called for the current
self-regulation by the Press Council to continue. The South
African National Editors? Forum (Sanef) and the Congress of
South African Trade Unions (COSATU) have both expressed strong
opposition to the proposal as being unconstitutional and have
vowed to fight it in court.

The latter is also an alliance partner with the ruling
ANC.

Sanef chairperson Mondli Makhanya said there was a
"mobilisation against the media", warning that it was likely
that the ANC government would pass the Media Appeals Tribunal
for print media through Parliament by the end of the year.

However, government spokesperson Themba Maseko made it
clear that there is no plan on the part of this government to
muzzle the media.

"What we can state without any reservations here is
that there is not an intention or a plan on the part of this
government to muzzle the media in any shape or form," Maseko
said.

"We understand that a lot of things that have taken
place currently, (such as) the Protection of Information Bill
(and) the proposal of a media tribunal are contributing to a
climate where a perception could emerge that there is a
government plan to muzzle the media, but I want to make it
very clear that there isn`t such a plan on the part of the
government," he said.

PTI

From Zee News

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