The South African National Editors’ Forum has slammed the decision of the new Forum of Black Journalists to exclude white journalists from their meeting in Sandton on Friday.
African National Congress president Jacob Zuma was to deliver an off-the-record address at the inaugural imbizo [meeting].
”Such exclusion has no place in South Africa today and certainly not in a forum that represents journalists,” said Sanef in a statement.
Chairperson of the newly formed forum’s steering committee Abbey Makoe, said the FBJ was an association ”who would politically in the South African context be defined as of African descent, coloureds and Indians”.
Makoe said the body’s ”modus operandi” was to ”redress inherent past imbalances which affect journalists as they attempt to work in the public domain”.
Any member of the media could join the forum, as long as they are of African descent, coloured or Indian.
Asked whether he thought it was discriminatory to exclude white journalists, Makoe said: ”To be quite frank that is just when people want to take attention away from why black journalists feel the need to get together from time to time to discuss matters they feel need addressing.”
He said the FBJ was no different from the Jewish Board of Deputies or the Black Lawyers’ Association.
”All like-minded people get together under one roof and chew together on things of common interest,” he said.
Sanef said while it strongly deplored the decision to exclude journalists who were not members of the organisation, it respected the FBJ’s right to organise and associate as it saw fit, ”provided this does not undermine the open society and democratic values of our Constitution and country”.
”Our democracy came after a hard fought struggle at several levels including the media and every effort should be made to protect it.”
”The address by an important leader such as Zuma is of great public importance, particularly given his views on the media. It is in the interests of journalism and the public at large that this meeting should be open to all journalists wishing to report on it. Sanef therefore calls on the FBJ to rescind the decision and allow all journalists to report on it.