South African civil society and the media have to reactivate the activism that was so much part of life during the days of the struggle. It is a sad truth that once again the South African government – this time one that we expected to honour media freedom, and one that promised transparent government, adherence to human rights and access to information – has chosen the path of secrecy.
In its absolute refusal to allow a public interest defence clause in the ‘information bill’, the Zuma government has nailed its colours to the mast of secrecy. It will hobble freedom of speech and journalists’ ability to do their jobs, curtail access to information that the community at large needs to know and browbeat potential whistleblowers into silence with its threat of lengthy jail terms.
It’s time to take action, and get involved. We’ve listed below four ways to make your voice heard.
Join the Right2Know March to Parliament
Tomorrow [Saturday] the Right2Know campaign has organised a march on Parliament in protest at the “draconian” Secrecy Bill.
“Through the efforts of our membership of civil society organisations, social movements and community groups, we have ensured that many of the draconian clauses have been removed or revised. But despite efforts to reform the Secrecy Bill in Parliament, the final draft that will appear before the National Assembly still metes out harsh prison sentences to whistleblowers, and poses a clear threat to the free flow of information,” the organisers said.
On Saturday September 17, from 10am to 1pm, thousands of South Africans will join in a march to Parliament to reject the final draft of the ‘Secrecy Bill’. How can you get involved?
1) Join our March. RSVP on the Facebook event page: SPEAK OUT AGAINST SECRECY: MARCH TO PARLIAMENT!
2) Volunteer to be a marshal on the day. Reply to this email with your contact details and “Marshal” in the subject line.
3) Make a donation to support our march! This can be done online on our Donors Page.
For more information, and to organise transport for your community contact Nkwame Cedile: email@example.com / 021 461 7211 or 078 227 6008
Take Part in Media Freedom Week
From Monday [September 19 through September 23], South Africans will be talking about the importance – or lack of importance – that the media plays in their daily lives. In an era of social media and WikiLeaks, the proposed Protection of Information Bill and Media Appeals Tribunal, of tabloids and scandal sheets, what role does the media play? And what role should it play in a non-racial, democratic South Africa?
Media Monitoring Africa and Media MattersZA is asking journalists and civil society to participate in and to support media freedom week. So far the following people and groups have endorsed or are partnering with us on events. Unisa has even taken the initiative of starting a blog!
Alternative Information Dissemination Centre (AIDC); Avusa; Centre for Child Law; Cosatu; e-news; Institute for Advancement of Journalism (IAJ); Mail & Guardian; Mediamattersza and Gendermattersza; Primedia; Right 2 Know Campaign; Sacomm and UNISA; SOS Support Public Broadcasting Coalition; Talk Radio 702; Womensnet; www.freeafricanmedia.com; and Y-fm.
Already there are a host of exciting events lined up for the week. Events include:
Current affairs programmes on y-fm;
Articles and blogs,
Expert workshops, and
A one hour debate on e-news with a high profile panel and audience participation.
How can you participate?
Have a debate, with your friends, your family, or in your community and tell us about it. Host an event, a film screening, a seminar, a poetry evening or dance about media freedom, whatever jingles your bells!
Get onto Twitter, and follow the #freemediaza and @mediamattersza;
Visit our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/mediamattersza
Follow @mediamattersza for events, resources, commentary and more;
Visit MMA’s website where we have a special page set up with coming events for the week http://www.mediamonitoringafrica.org
The Right2Know Campaign Seminar
Right2Know is hosting video-consultation to develop campaign perspectives on the proposed Media Appeals Tribunal (MAT) and transformation of the public broadcaster (SABC).
It is taking place on Monday, September 26 from 08h30 to 13h00 via video conference at venues in Cape Town and Johannesburg. The venue in Johannesburg is the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism, 9 Jubilee Road, Parktown. In Cape Town, it will take place at the AIDC Solidarity Centre, 129 Rochester Road, Observatory.
“At our National Summit earlier this year the Right2Know Campaign identified the Secrecy Bill as a symptom of the deeper threat to the free flow of information in South Africa and resolved to campaign on broader access to information issues as well as to take up the struggle for media freedom and diversity. This seminar is the second in a series that aim to unpack aspects of media freedom and diversity and develop campaign strategies in these areas,” the organisation said.
Places at the seminar are limited, so please RSVP as soon as possible by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The programme will include a welcome & context by Murray Hunter, R2K National Co-ordinator; Presentation of R2K discussion doc on MAT – Glenda Daniels, R2K Media Freedom/Diversity Team; Respondent: Nic Dawes, SANEF; Respondent: Prakashnee Govender, COSATU; and Presentation of R2K discussion doc on Public Broadcasting by Kate Skinner, R2K Media Freedom/Diversity Team
Sign the Journalist Declaration Against Secrecy
We, the journalists of South Africa, believe the Protection of State Information Bill is a threat to our constitutional rights of access to information and freedom of expression and hence the lifeblood of our democracy. Should the National Assembly adopt this Bill and President Jacob Zuma sign it into law, they will be directly responsible for the erosion of openness, transparency and accountability in South Africa. As journalists we are dedicated to serving the public interest by helping to hold those with power to account. Regardless of any law, we remain duty bound to protect whistleblowers who help us expose wrongdoing in the public interest. We commend and support the Right2Know Campaign and all democrats who oppose the Protection of State Information Bill.