Writers protest against proposed media controls

Jeopardising the freedom of writers will endanger the freedom of every reader in South Africa, renowned authors said on Friday in protest against proposed controls over the South African media.

“Writing presupposes an interaction with readers. And so, if the work and the freedom of the writer are in jeopardy, the freedom of every reader in South Africa is in danger.

“Consequently our protest is an action undertaken by South Africans for all South Africans, committing ourselves to a demand for our free country: freedom of thought expressed, freedom of dialogue, freedom from fear of the truth about ourselves, all South Africans,” said a statement.

The protest, organised by acclaimed authors Andre Brink and Nadine Gordimer, is opposing the government’s draft Protection of Information Bill and the ANC’s proposed media tribunal.

It is being supported by fellow writers Zakes Mda, Abraham H de Vries, Chris Barnard, Breyten Breytenbach, Marlene van Niekerk, Zoë Wicomb, Damon Galgut, Mandla Langa, Etienne van Heerden, Hermann Giliomee, Fred Khumalo and Justice Malala.


“Denial of freedom of expression makes a mockery of the profession of journalism — the print press and the media in general.

“As writers — whether novelists, poets, playwrights, essayists, historians, biographers or others — we too are threatened by denial of freedom of the word.”

Many of the writers supporting the protest were banned under the apartheid regime.

“We are threatened again, now with a gag over the word processor if we penetrate the ‘transparency’ promised in the new South Africa, which a media tribunal will replace with the descent of a shutter over the dialogue of the arts.”

The Bill and the tribunal have led to debate over media freedom. The ANC has argued that current media watchdog, the press ombudsman, is not sufficient and an alternative to self-regulation was needed. The Protection of Information Bill seeks to regulate the classification of information and makes publishing top-secret documents a crime punishable with up to 25 years in prison. — Sapa

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Indians in South Africa, a historical excerpt

In the book, The Indian Africans, academic Kiru Naidoo explores the society of colonial Natal in the late 1800s to early 1900

A colossus with feet of clay

South Africa is disproportionately targeted by cybercriminals. Digital attacks call for digital solutions and technology is a the prime weapon in this fight

The president, the preacher and the great escape

Malawi’s new president was furious after Shepherd Bushiri’s dramatic disappearance from South Africa

Q&A with author Mia Arderne: ‘A prayer for the jol not to end

Mia Arderne’s Mermaid Fillet was a lifetime in the making. The author’s vulnerability gives the book superpowers

Patel: South Africa on target to attract R1.2-trillion in investments

The trade minister says the country is on track to reach more than R1-trillion worth of investments over five years, despite Covid-19 disruptions

South Africa must revisit and refresh its idea of itself

Covid has propelled citizens into feelings of a new shared identity in which the historical force of ‘whiteness’ is fading into irrelevance
Advertising

Subscribers only

Q&A Sessions: Frank Chikane on the rainbow where colours never...

Reverend Frank Chikane has just completed six years as the chairperson of the Kagiso Trust. He speaks about corruption, his children’s views and how churches can be mobilised

ANC: ‘We’re operating under conditions of anarchy’

In its latest policy documents, the ANC is self-critical and wants ‘consequence management’, yet it’s letting its members off the hook again

More top stories

Shabnim Ismail bowls her way into the record books Down...

The night before Australia’s Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) final, fiery South African fast bowler Shabnim Ismail lay awake pondering how...

Hawks make arrest in matric maths paper leak

Themba Daniel Shikwambana, who works at a printing company, was granted bail and is due to return to court in January

Andile Lungisa: Early parole for the house of truth

Disgraced Nelson Mandela Bay councillor Andile Lungisa calls for a change of leadership in the ANC immediately after being released on parole

War of words at Zondo commission: ‘Grow up Mr Gordhan,...

The cross-examination of the public enterprises minister by Tom Moyane’s lawyers at the state capture inquiry went on well into overtime on Monday evening
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…