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Black Management Forum takes aim at media

The Black Management Forum (BMF) on Wednesday added its voice to attacks on the media, accusing newsrooms of double standards in reporting on irregularities in public bodies.

It said in a statement that it had noted with dismay reports by “some in the media” portraying a recent audit report on the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) “as close to squeaky clean as is humanly possible”.

“The organisation has made emphatic its concern about the inconsistency of media reports in condemning irregularities in the public sector, thereby showing the inherent lack of objectivity and double standards in some newsrooms,” the BMF said.

It said former Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama had been made a pariah of governance in the public service by the media and opposition politicians.

However the CCMA, whose chairperson and executive director were white, had been given accolades irrespective of the Auditor General’s revelations on the commission’s financial irregularities.

“These double standards are typical of a media that takes sides and corroborates our position that the media industry needs another level of regulation beyond self-regulation to ensure fairness and an equitable information dissemination characterised by credibility and integrity,” said BMF deputy president Tembakazi Mnyaka.

‘Not an absolute right’
Meanwhile, the SA Jewish Board of Deputies on Wednesday expressed reservations about the ANC’s proposed Media Appeals Tribunal (MAT), saying that such bodies should be independent and not aligned with the government of the day.

“It is accepted that media freedom is not an absolute right, but one that should be exercised in a fair and responsible manner. There is therefore a definite need for effective regularity bodies to be in place in order to hold the media accountable where necessary,” said a statement from the board, which represented South Africa’s Jewish community.

“However, it is vital that such bodies [as is the case with the judiciary] be completely independent entities, whose deliberations and decisions will not be unduly influenced by external political or ideological considerations.”

The board said the proposed measures would create a regulatory body that would not be independent but “that is instead beholden to the government of the day”.

This would be a serious restriction on the Constitutional right to freedom of expression and a backward step for ensuring government’s accountability and transparency. — Sapa

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