Freedom loving South Africans commemorated Media Freedom Day today, in South Africa. Today marks that fateful day in 1977 when the former Apartheid government shut down newspapers, banned civic organizations and arrested journalists and activists; the same actions being pig-headedly contemplated by the so-called liberation government in power, today.
While it seems that this same government are about to backtrack on the implementation of that disgraceful piece of legislation known as the Media Appeals Tribunal (MAT) in its current form, there is no absolute guarantee of that. Freedom loving South Africans need to remain ever vigilant and in united opposition to it ever seeing the light of day.
While MAT may indeed wind up as still-born, the implementation of that other sinister piece of legislation known as the Protection of Information Bill (POI) which continues to threaten our basic freedoms, is still very much on the cards. The same opposition we have shown towards MAT, needs to be gathered up again twice and thrice-fold, to defeat those who dare meddle with our freedoms.
We must not allow ourselves to be mislead by government propagandists such as Aziz Pahad, whose call for “a greater variety of voices… to be heard more often in the South African media…,” is nothing short of a smokescreen to give credibility to that new pro-government rag that is about to be published by the Gupta’s, The New Age. Sure we need a greater variety of voices in the media, but not those that toe the ruling party line, or suck up to the politicians, in anticipation of favors.
And perhaps as a sign that Media Freedom Day did prick some consciences, five senior editors of the propaganda rag, The New Age, resigned this afternoon, just hours ahead of its launch tomorrow. Hopefully these journalists will now join a truly free newspaper publisher.
Let’s all stand firm against any legislation that threatens media freedom.