We all know the ANC and the Press (the capital is deliberate) have had a rough ride together over the years. And we know that there are parts of the ANC that seem to be hell-bent on using its power as the majority in Parliament to make sure the press is brought to heel.
Some see it as a deliberate campaign to stop freedom of speech, and to get rid of those pesky front-page exclusives featuring the word "corruption". Others think the ANC has a point. On Tuesday, 31 January 2012, in front of the Press Freedom Commission
's members, the ANC had its say.
[Disclaimer: Grootes is a journalist. He is naturally biased towards his fellow journalists. Don't say we didn't warn you and inform you - Daily Maverick editor
Let's start at the beginning. Isn't it fascinating that the ANC decided to come and give a submission in the first place? Think about it. Already there's been one editor of a national newspaper (Peter Bruce of the Business Day
) who's said publicly that he won't negotiate on this issue with the ANC. To enter into a process of negotiation means there's something you're willing to give up, and there's nothing he's willing to give up when it comes to freedom of the press.
And there's the process that is, supposedly, going to get underway in Parliament, that would, according to the ANC, end with the establishment of a "media appeals tribunal
". So the fact the ANC came before the Press Freedom Commission is a good start. It was an opportunity for the party, headed by its secretary-general Gwede Mantashe
no less, to put its side of the story.
It means that at last there is some debate. There's also recognition, to an extent, of the legitimacy of the process of setting up this commission (it's been set up by the Press Council). It's also good politics. Mantashe will be able to say "we did warn you" when the time comes.
Then we have the party's main submission
. It's not that long, and it's seriously worth a read. Parts of it make you think the ANC is paranoid, and parts make you think they have a serious point.
Continue reading the full opinion piece
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