Higher education minister, Blade Nzimande, has fired another salvo at ‘the media‘, accusing it of unfairly treating the ANC and refusing to acknowledge the party’s accomplishments.
Speaking at the conference of SA Communist Party Commissars, Nzimande lashed out at the media, saying it had “thrown away every pretence at fairness and balance. They are not even following their own press code, by the way. I don’t know why the ANC has retreated on the issue of the media tribunal”.
He even took a swipe at the SABC, long accused of being the mouthpiece of the governing party, saying it had also assumed the “posture” of a critical media, particularly via the SAfm radio station. Nzimande said the station only read on air SMSes that called ANC leaders “hooligans”.
But CEO of Print and Digital Media SA (PDMSA), Ingrid Louw, said she was “surprised” by Nzimande’s accusations.
“Mr Nzimande’s attack on the media comes at a time when print media in South Africa has shown renewed commitment to transformation and a system of independent co-regulation,” Louw said in a statement.
She said it was incumbent on the PDMSA, as the representative body of the print and digital media in South Africa, to “dispel the myths” perpetuated in Nzimande’s statements.
“Our commitment to creating an integrated and accountable self-regulatory mechanism has been evident. This process began with the Press Freedom Commission and culminated in the announcement of sweeping reforms to the South African Press Code, Procedures and the Constitution of the South African Press Council on 3 October,” she said.
Louw said PDMSA was “committed to transformation”, and that action had been taken in the form of a PDMSA Transformation Task Team (PDMTTT) headed by Nkwenkwe Nkomo. “The PDMTTT’s role is to consult stakeholders in the industry and more broadly on the issue of transformation in the mainstream, local and community print media,” she said.
Nzimande paid particular attention to the three biggest print media companies – Times Media (formerly Avusa), Independent Newspapers and Media24 – accusing them of being unfair, unethical and lacking balance in their reporting.
Louw said PDMSA took “great exception” to Nzimande’s statements, saying the press had shown commitment to addressing issues of transformation and a transparent system of regulation.
She said the media was in a state of transition, but that PDMSA was “resolute in developing a programme to address the transformation imperatives within the context of a free and independent press as enshrined in our Constitution”.