Government commits to keeping press more informed

Government will make information readily available so that the media can inform the public and empower them to hold it accountable, it said on Saturday.

In a joint statement issued by the office of deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe and the South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef), both parties committed to working closer together to improve the country's performance.

Sanef called on government to repeal or amend apartheid-era laws that were still in force and which, in Sanef's view, unjustifiably restricted the free flow of information.

Cabinet indicated that work in this regard had already started and both parties committed to expediting the process.

A meeting between government and Sanef, held in Magaliesburg on Friday and Saturday, concentrated on key policy issues and the overall direction in which the country was moving.

Government shared a range of information and insights with the country's editors on the global economic crisis, recent economic trends, infrastructure development, the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project and the National Development Plan.

Motlanthe said at the opening of the meeting on Friday that government and media needed to respect each other's roles if they were to address South Africa's problems.

"This understanding is critical if we are to establish and maintain a robust, participatory democracy in which all of us work together to build a better society and economy," he said.

"We recognised that media freedom and access to information had to be secured alongside the responsibility of government to conduct its work transparently and to communicate with the public."

Motlanthe added that government had a duty to ensure there was a diversity of opinion in public discourse and that no voice should go unheard.

"In an open democracy such as ours, these voices don't have to be mutually agreeable and don't have to agree with government."

Sanef deputy chair Nic Dawes welcomed Motlanthe's remarks and said although Sanef still had some concerns with government's approach to the media, he believed these would be dealt with in future. – Sapa.

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