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ANC statement on press freedom

18 August 2009

For decades, the African National Congress (ANC) has championed freedom of the press, having played a major role in shaping the country`s Constitution, which protects press freedom – among other rights.

Due to our commitment to constitutional democracy, South Africa ranks high among countries where journalists enjoy freedom of the press. Addressing the South African National Editors` Forum Nat Nakasa Award dinner on 27 June 2009, ANC President Jacob Zuma reiterated the ANC`s position on press freedom. He said: "We seek reporting that is credible and honest and informative. We seek comment and analysis that challenges us and provides fresh insight into our world and the challenges we face."

While the ANC will not deviate from ensuring an atmosphere of a vibrant free press in South Africa, it will equally challenge any abuse of this freedom. Abuse of press freedom is no different to the abuse of other freedoms protected by the Constitution. It is against this background that the ANC has lodged a formal complaint to the Press Ombudsman of South Africa against the City Press and Sunday Times newspapers for publishing articles that illustrate the abuse of press freedom.

In the case of the City Press, the ANC has lodged a complaint about an article, which appeared on the front page of the newspaper`s 16th August 2009 edition entitled "Phosa tries to muzzle City Press". In its overall assertion and content, the article violates a number of fundamental principles of the Press Code of Professional Practice (PCPP). Most notably, the newspaper failed to report news truthfully, accurately and fairly. In failing to adhere to provisions of the PCPP, the City Press has chosen to use "sources" to back up a fabrication of facts in an attempt to create sensation. The City Press has come up with untrue and unsubstantiated allegations of "deteriorating relations" between Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and Treasurer-General Mathews Phosa.

On 9 August 2009, the Sunday Times - quoting an unnamed "party official" - reported without fact, truth or basis, on the recent National Working Committee (NWC) meeting under the headline "ANC race row rages over Cabinet". The newspaper claimed that ANC Youth League president Julius Malema`s criticism of President Jacob Zuma`s appointment of "minorities" to strategic economic position was not a spontaneous outburst but part of a debate raging within official party structures.

The Sunday Times article further claimed that comrades Nathi Mthethwa, Lindiwe Sisulu and Tony Yengeni, were among those who questioned why the economic cluster was run by "minority groups".

Elevating claims of unnamed sources to the status of the fact and failing to come up with any supporting fact, represents a blatant departure from the norms and standards expected of media institutions of the stature of City Press and Sunday Times. This type of sensational journalism can only serve to give the respected profession a bad name. The ANC calls on media houses to do introspection on adherence to ethics and the PCPP. The ANC has never sought to muzzle the press and does not intend to do so. All that it expects from the press is factual and unbiased reporting, which does not border on sensationalism or defamation of character.

Issued by:
ANC statement on press freedom

18 August 2009

For decades, the African National Congress (ANC) has championed freedom of the press, having played a major role in shaping the country`s Constitution, which protects press freedom – among other rights.

Due to our commitment to constitutional democracy, South Africa ranks high among countries where journalists enjoy freedom of the press. Addressing the South African National Editors` Forum Nat Nakasa Award dinner on 27 June 2009, ANC President Jacob Zuma reiterated the ANC`s position on press freedom. He said: "We seek reporting that is credible and honest and informative. We seek comment and analysis that challenges us and provides fresh insight into our world and the challenges we face."

While the ANC will not deviate from ensuring an atmosphere of a vibrant free press in South Africa, it will equally challenge any abuse of this freedom. Abuse of press freedom is no different to the abuse of other freedoms protected by the Constitution. It is against this background that the ANC has lodged a formal complaint to the Press Ombudsman of South Africa against the City Press and Sunday Times newspapers for publishing articles that illustrate the abuse of press freedom.

In the case of the City Press, the ANC has lodged a complaint about an article, which appeared on the front page of the newspaper`s 16th August 2009 edition entitled "Phosa tries to muzzle City Press". In its overall assertion and content, the article violates a number of fundamental principles of the Press Code of Professional Practice (PCPP). Most notably, the newspaper failed to report news truthfully, accurately and fairly. In failing to adhere to provisions of the PCPP, the City Press has chosen to use "sources" to back up a fabrication of facts in an attempt to create sensation. The City Press has come up with untrue and unsubstantiated allegations of "deteriorating relations" between Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and Treasurer-General Mathews Phosa.

On 9 August 2009, the Sunday Times - quoting an unnamed "party official" - reported without fact, truth or basis, on the recent National Working Committee (NWC) meeting under the headline "ANC race row rages over Cabinet". The newspaper claimed that ANC Youth League president Julius Malema`s criticism of President Jacob Zuma`s appointment of "minorities" to strategic economic position was not a spontaneous outburst but part of a debate raging within official party structures.

The Sunday Times article further claimed that comrades Nathi Mthethwa, Lindiwe Sisulu and Tony Yengeni, were among those who questioned why the economic cluster was run by "minority groups".

Elevating claims of unnamed sources to the status of the fact and failing to come up with any supporting fact, represents a blatant departure from the norms and standards expected of media institutions of the stature of City Press and Sunday Times. This type of sensational journalism can only serve to give the respected profession a bad name. The ANC calls on media houses to do introspection on adherence to ethics and the PCPP. The ANC has never sought to muzzle the press and does not intend to do so. All that it expects from the press is factual and unbiased reporting, which does not border on sensationalism or defamation of character.

Issued by:
Jessie Duarte
National Spokesperson
African National Congress

Enquiries:
Brian Sokutu 071 671 6899
Ishmael Mnisis 082 333 5550
National Spokesperson
African National Congress

Enquiries:
Brian Sokutu 071 671 6899
Ishmael Mnisis 082 333 5550