Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Media council chief warns of ‘fatal sense of complacency’

A wide range of individuals and organisations have reacted with outrage to the government’s latest inroads into the remnants of press freedom in South Africa.

Even though yesterday’s government gazette did not fulfill the direst predictions — extending to the expected closure of some newspapers — the regulations are seen as the most serious threat yet to the supply of information.

The chairman of the South African Media Council, ex-Appellate Division, Judge L de V van Winsen, said “the omission of certain news and views will lull the public into a false and potentially fatal sense of complacency”.

The restrictions constitute “the most far-reaching constraints yet placed upon the free flow of news during the present crisis”, he said. He appealed for a “reconsideration” of the regulations, saying “failure to draw attention to the risk they entailed would be a dereliction of the public responsibility delegated by the Media Council’s Charter”.

Church group, political organisations, professional associations, trade unions and even a foreign government have come out in swift and strong condemnation of government clamp.

  • The Anglican Church’s liaison officer, Bishop John Carter, said “only authoritarian regimes of the worst kind, that are afraid to let people know what is happening, would resort to such measures”.
  • The president of the Methodist Conference, the Rev Jack Scholtz, said “the government is moving a step closer to totalitarianism”.
  • The acting president of the Azanian Peoples Organisation, Nkosi Molala, said “the restrictions are reminiscent of the steps adopted by Adolf Hitler and Mussolini and their totalitarian henchmen. Denying people knowledge of what is happening in their own country will not stop what is happening now”.
  • Herstigte Nasionale Party leader, Jaap Marais, said “the government is demonstrating that it has allowed the unrest to develop to such an extent that it now has to take extreme measures
    such as these to regain control”.
  • The Chief Minister of KwaZulu, Mangosothu Buthelezi, said “the restrictions will exacerbate our problem, and will only help those clamouring for sanctions”
  • Progressive Federal Party spokesman on the media, David Dalling, said “the press is entering a new dark era”, and he called on the government to “seriously reconsider the regulations”.
  • Lawyers For Human Rights vice-chairman Barry Jammy said the regulations would mean that South Africa “has effectively become a police state and freedom of speech and the press has effectively been destroyed”.
  • The Congress of South African Trade Unions said it was “clear the Emergency has failed to produce the desired results, and it is time for all South Africans who want no truck with apartheid and repression to unite to stop the government before it does irreparable damage to the country”.
  • A spokesman for the British Foreign Office “deplored the restrictions”, claiming “they are entirely contrary to the Western values that the South African government claims to espouse

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

‘People feel they have a stake in SAA’ — Gidon...

Interest in the beleaguered national carrier, which has received billions of rands in public funding, means criticism is inevitable

Soweto teacher dismissed for the alleged repeated rape of a...

The learner was 13 when the alleged rapes started, and they continued for two years until she asked to be moved to another school

More top stories

ANC committed to paying staff salaries, but employees are not...

ANC staffers picketed outside Luthuli House on Tuesday after months of problems with salary payments

Kanalelo Boloetsi: Taking on Lesotho’s cellphone giants, and winning

A man who took on cellphone data regulators over out-of-bundle rates is featured in this edition of a series on human rights defenders in the SADC region

Iqbal Sharma’s brother-in-law granted bail in Free State farming case

Dinesh Patel appeared on the same charges that have seen Sharma denied bail and the prosecuting authority seek the extradition of the Gupta brothers

Two-million new J&J jabs to come within two weeks, says...

Johnson & Johnson plans to replace our two-million unusable vaccines by July. The vaccines are unsuitable for use and must be destroyed, while the country’s vaccination programme is behind schedule
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×