"It will be bigger than all of you guys put together"
"The media is censoring a lot of government information. You are waking us up to do things ourselves... It will be bigger than all of you guys put together," City Press
quoted government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi as saying last week.
However, Mpofu said at the end of the day one would have a situation where the Mail & Guardian
would run a story, for instance, on corruption in government, only to see Manyi's proposed publication denying and discrediting the M&G
, its story and particular journalists.
"Therefore, you create a communicative vacuum between the government, people and the media as the fourth estate," Mpofu lamented.
GCIS head Manyi, a controversial figure, was also quoted as saying that the government would be abdicating its responsibility if it allowed editors of commercial newspapers to decide which government information was published.Move not surprising at all
Mpofu said the government's move to launch its own newspaper was not surprising at all, adding that it would be naïve for anyone to claim that there is peace between Government and the media.
"We all know that the private media play an adversarial role and therefore cannot be expected to be bedfellows with the ANC government. Once the media start singing from the same hymn book, then we must get worried," he stressed.
"The publication is meant to serve government interests and therefore one would not expect it to be financed by advertising because at the end of the day it will pander to the advertiser interests. This is an undeniable fact in media operations."City Press
also revealed that the government has not ruled out the possibility of turning the government's bi-monthly mouthpiece Vuk'uzenzele
into a daily paper.Government's decision must be understood
Mpofu said nevertheless that the government's decision, although unpopular, must be understood. "When one reads the private press, one gets a sense that there is nothing positive about the government and its activities," he said. "The argument that Manyi raises might not be far-fetched and I must hasten to say that this is a dicey situation and the government might have been frustrated to take such an unpopular route.
"As I said before, it is sheer irresponsibility to use public funds for such a project, even though well-meant, but it is predictable that it will be used to political agendas and not to serve the South Africans.
"Lastly, the private media in SA has, in a way, failed to serve South Africans in a satisfactory manner; if Manyi says 10 issues are raised and only two are reported then, honestly, there is a missing link here. "Role to inform, educate and entertain"
Continued Mpofu: "The media have a role to inform, educate and entertain. Informing people does not have to be necessarily selective of negative things that the government does so spectacularly; there are positives also that need to be reported.
"In trying to 'go it on its own' the government may commit some grave mistakes that will wash its credibility down the drain, but since there is no serious opposition in SA to wrestle power from the ANC, the project will go ahead regardless of certain repercussions that might be attendant to the whole project."For more:Corrected at 3.44pm on 30 March 2011.