Zuma: Media tribunal ‘to complement’ self-regulation

The proposed media appeals tribunal is intended to “strengthen, complement and support the current self-regulatory institutions”, President Jacob Zuma said on Wednesday.

Replying to questions in the National Assembly, he said the African National Congress’s (ANC) resolution on a proposed media tribunal “promotes media freedom within the context of the human rights ethos” of the Constitution.

“It promotes the view that the right of freedom of expression should not be elevated above other equally important rights, especially the right to human dignity, which is also enshrined in the Constitution,” he said.

The intention was that the tribunal “would strengthen, complement and support the current self-regulatory institutions, such as the press ombudsman’s office”.

“It must be noted that this vibrant debate has resulted in a decision by the Press Council to review its constitution with a view to strengthening its self-regulatory mechanisms.”

However, whether the review was taking place or not, “we have put this one, our own, media appeals tribunal”, Zuma said.

Since the recent debate started, there had been more apologies from the media.

But when it reported about individuals, “you have huge headlines and a picture of the person”.

‘We are saying there must be a way to appeal’
However, when “they discovered their reporting was erroneous” and agreed to retract, “they don’t give the same equal weight”.

“The apology is somewhere hidden inside a small little thing. It’s not fair,” Zuma said.

So far, the press ombudsman had “been able to ask the media to apologise, but the damage could be very big; you have got no recourse to that”.

If a citizen was not satisfied, there was no recourse.

“And we are saying there must be a way to appeal, and we are saying you must therefore establish this tribunal. It does not infringe on the freedom of the press. It deals with the human rights of all citizens,” Zuma said.

“We are concerned because a lot of pain has been caused by how the media has been reporting [on] certain individuals in the country.”

The Inkatha Freedom Party’s Mario Oriani-Ambrosini said the debate on press freedom should not even be opened, as the solution lay in the law against defamation.

Zuma responded by saying many South Africans “are poor”.

“They can’t get a lawyer to go and defend themselves. What happens to them?”

The tribunal would be “able to act on their behalf”.

“So whether the Act is there, the practice is that many people can’t have lawyers to take the media, if they think they’re aggrieved, to court,” he said. — 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

School closures come at a cost

The latest, unscientific decision to close schools again won’t help poor students. Strategies must be identified to help learners stay in school

As opposition mounts, Zimbabwe’s president lashes out

Emmerson Mnangagwa has accused ‘dark forces’ of destabilising the country

Big retailers need to step up to the plate

To stave off a multi-generational malnutrition crisis, the food industry must work with government to provide highly nutritious foods at cost during the pandemic

Crime stats mark a bitter start to Women’s Month

We must celebrate women’s achievements this month while agitating for structural change, argues Luke Waltham

South Africa prioritises fossil fuels over clean energy in post-Covid-19 recovery packages

The country is among the G20 countries who have invested in electricity produced from coal, oil and gas at the cost of addressing climate change

Challenges and opportunities for telemedicine in Africa

Telemedicine in Africa is currently limited by the availability of basic infrastructure, but, considering the lack of doctors in rural areas, it is a vital component in addressing the continent’s healthcare needs

New education policy on gender violence released

Universities and other higher education institutions have to develop ways of preventing or dealing with rape and other damaging behaviour

Cambridge Food Jozini: Pandemic or not, the price-gouging continues

The Competition Commission has fined Cambridge Food Jozini for hiking the price of its maize meal during April

Sekhukhune’s five-year battle for water back in court

The residents of five villages are calling for the district municipal manager to be arrested

Vaccine trial results due in December

If successful, it will then have to be manufactured and distributed

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday