Editors, ANC in ‘robust’ talks over media tribunal

The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) held “tense” talks with the ANC in Johannesburg on Thursday about a proposed media appeals tribunal.

“It was quite a tough engagement,” said Sanef chairperson Mondli Makhanya. “I will use the words, ‘very robust’. We did have tense moments.”

He said Sanef explained to the ANC, represented by spokesperson Jackson Mthembu and secretary general Gwede Mantashe, that a panel had been set up to look at how the self-regulation mechanism of the press ombudsman could be improved.

At the same time, the Press Council was conducting its own probe into how it could strengthen itself.

“The response [from the ANC] was that the media appeals tribunal is not a done deal,” said Makhanya.

The ANC said its resolution at Polokwane in December 2007 was that it would investigate the “desirability” of a media appeals tribunal.

‘Very constructive’
Also, discussions on the tribunal at the ANC’s upcoming National General Council would “not be the be-all and end-all”, said Makhanya.

“What was important was that we moved from the language of, ‘It will happen without a doubt’, to that they are willing to listen,” said Makhanya. “We were not going to get firm commitments out of the first meeting.”

Mthembu confirmed that it was decided more discussions should take place between the ANC and Sanef.

“Our view is that the talks were very constructive. We are looking forward to more engagements in future,” he said after the meeting.

He said Sanef gave the ANC “details” of its thoughts around strengthening the self-regulatory mechanism.

“We will be looking at what they proposed,” said Mthembu. “We have a view that we need a media appeals tribunal, and if there are other means that can be factored in to make such a call redundant, so be it, but that is dependent on the discussions between ourselves.” — Sapa

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