Media barred from Zuma visit for ‘security reasons’

Some journalists were barred from parts of President Jacob Zuma’s tour of the Moses Mabhida stadium, in Durban, for ”security reasons”, Durban city manager Mike Sutcliffe said on Friday.

This comes after a war of words between the South African National Editors’ Forum and government communications over the exclusion of some media groups.

On Thursday, Sanef claimed four journalists were given privileged accreditation to accompany Zuma on the tour, while others were excluded.

The tour took place on Saturday and the ”privileged journalists” were listed as being from the Daily News, the Mercury, the Sunday Times and the South African Broadcasting Corporation.

According to Sanef, journalists from the South African Press Association, e.tv, the Sowetan, Talk Radio 702, Ilanga, Gagasi FM, the Daily Sun and other media groups were excluded.

”Sanef views privileged accreditation and the exclusion of a majority of journalists from a newsworthy function, especially one that involves the president, as unacceptable and unconstitutional
censorship,” Sanef chairperson Jovial Rantao said.

The Government Communication and Information System — at which Sanef’s complaint was directed — denied the allegation, saying it had no part in the arrangements for the event. It demanded that Sanef withdraw its claim and apologise for misleading the public.

The presidency also denied that privileged accreditation was issued. Acting presidential spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said it appeared there was ”confusion” about accreditation rather than a ”deliberate attempt” to exclude certain journalists.

However, on Friday, Sutcliffe admitted that some journalists were indeed excluded.

He said Zuma viewed changerooms and a mock-up suite during his tour of the facilities.

”It was felt that it would be a good opportunity to allow some of the media to accompany him so that they had visuals of where he would visit.

”From a security and safety point of view, it was not possible for all the media to accompany him and so we decided for that part of his walk we would invite SABC and e.tv, as well as journalists from the Independent group, Ilanga and Sunday Times.”

A few photographers also went along, he said in a statement.

Sutcliffe said the ANC’s provincial leadership issued a press release inviting all journalists to attend the tour.

”All who responded received accreditation and, because it is a construction site, they also had to undergo a site induction.” – Sapa

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