Print media in South Africa was a threat to democracy, South African Communist Party general secretary Blade Nzimande said in a report published on Tuesday.
“We have a huge liberal offensive against our democracy … The print media is the biggest perpetrator of this liberal thinking,” Nzimande said at the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) congress in Ekurhuleni, east of Johannesburg.
Business Day newspaper reported that he said the proposed media appeals tribunal was necessary to protect the future of socialism in South Africa.
“They [the media] have gone to their friends around the world, including those in America to get people to go against the tribunal. How can we trust the American journalists who invaded Iraq and then were told what to write by the army generals there? We need a revolutionary, not liberal, defence of our Constitution,” said Nzimande.
He was speaking days after the African National Congress’ national general council decided that it would instruct Parliament to investigate self-regulation, transformation and ownership in the print media.
Investigation ‘could go either way’
Last week the the ANC defended its push for the media tribunal and called on Parliament to consider the press oversight body.
“It should be Parliament that investigates its desirability and feasibility. That investigation could go either way,” senior ANC official Pallo Jordan was quoted as saying by the South African Press Association on Friday.
“The existing self-regulatory system with the press ombudsman and press council is ineffective and needs to be strengthened,” said Jordan, who is a member of the party’s national executive committee.
The party has proposed that a media appeals tribunal be established, which would hear complaints against the press and have authority to impose legal penalties on journalists.
However, South African journalists say the proposals are an attempt to stifle a press corps that has embarrassed the ANC by exposing official corruption, uncovering scandals and reporting on internal party disputes.