mce_keep=”true”The organisation has rejected the South African Human Rights Commission’s (SAHRC) finding that a blanket restriction on membership based on race “does not pass the test of constitutional scrutiny”.
The SAHRC announced its finding on Tuesday (8 April) after investigating a complaint against the FBJ from Katy Katopodis, the editor of Talk Radio 702 and 94.7 Highveld Stereo (both Primedia Broadcasting stations). TheMediaOnline previously reported Katopodis claimed the FBJ’s exclusion of white journalists from an off-the-record briefing with ANC president Jacob Zuma, amounted to unfair discrimination.
Jody Kollapen, chairperson of the SAHRC, announced the commission’s finding in this matter at a press briefing in Johannesburg. The commission recommended that the FBJ’s policy on membership be revisited.
“Should the FBJ amend the provisions of its constitution, which relates to membership, thereby opening membership to all races subject to the proviso that any person who chooses to become a member of the FBJ should subscribe to their principles and be committed to the advancement of empowerment of black journalists, then in that case the Commission would not see anything wrong by limiting the attendees at such an imbizo (events such as the off-the-record briefing with Zuma) to only its members,” the finding reads.
Abbey Makoe, acting chairperson of the FBJ, said in response the SAHRC had “misinterpreted” the Constitution.
He called the finding a “banning order” and said the commission had found them “guilty for being black”.
Makoe said the FBJ rejected the finding and would call for a convention of all black organisations.
Ã¢Â–Â In a related complaint, the SAHRC found Jon Qwelane’s use of the word “coconut” at the FBJ’s off-the-record briefing with Zuma did not amount to hate speech. Qwelane used the word in response to a walk-out by Primedia Broadcasting’s Yusuf Abramjee and Kieno Kammies, who did not support the exclusion of journalists based on race. The commission appealed to South Africans to find “different” ways of expressing their differences.