ANC, Sanef condemn signal jamming at Sona

The ANC on Friday condemned the jamming of the cellphone signal in Parliament during President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address. “[The] ANC supports the free flow of information and media freedom,” national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa added.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) said only the country’s security cluster departments were permitted to use jamming devices.

“The national security cluster departments may, where supported by relevant security legislation, deploy the use of jammers in relation to, among others, state security functions,” spokesperson Paseka Maleka said in a statement.

Around 25 journalists launched a protest in the press gallery of the National Assembly on Thursday evening because they did not have cellphone reception to file their stories.

“Bring back the signal, bring back the signal,” they chanted, waving their cellphones at an electronic black box which was believed to be a jamming device.


Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPs joined in the chanting from their seats below, also holding up their cellphones. DA chief whip John Steenhuisen rose on a “rule of order” to submit that the jamming was “in direct violation of the … Constitution”. The DA was supported by the EFF and the Freedom Front Plus.

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete said she would make sure the secretary of Parliament looked into the issue. Icasa welcomed this. Maleka said Icasa would liaise with Parliament on the outcome of the investigation. “Should it deem it necessary, the authority may also institute its own investigation into the matter.”

Disrupting media
Media houses were considering not reporting on the address unless the signal was restored. Two correspondents had to hang out of a second storey window in Parliament to file copy. Male correspondents queued for a spot in the men’s toilet, where a signal could briefly be found.

The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) also condemned the jamming. “This disrupts the functioning of the media particularly as journalists are filing using cellphone signal for digital platforms, sending pictures back to their main offices and updating Facebook and Twitter accounts for various publications,” said Sanef executive director Mthatha Tsedu.

Many journalists complained on Twitter that once they had entered the House they could no longer use their cellphones. Tsedu said if Parliament refused to unjam the signal it would amount to censorship. The signal was eventually restored before President Jacob Zuma presented his address. – 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.

Sapa
Guest Author

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

How smuggled gold destined for Dubai or Singapore has links...

Three Malagasy citizens were apprehended at OR Tambo International airport, but now the trail is found to connect to France and Mali

How lottery execs received dubious payments through a private company

The National Lottery Commission is being investigated by the SIU for alleged corruption and maladministration, including suspicious payments made to senior NLC employees between 2016 and 2017

More top stories

R2.3bn VBS trial expected to only begin in 2022

The state is expected to request a 16 week-long trial, as delays stymie progress in the saga.

Spy boss tells how agency was used to detain Zuma’s...

Day two of State Security Agency testimony at the Zondo commission birthed more revelations that point to the former head of state and agents breaking the law

Covax will take excess doses of Covid vaccines off the...

The global initiative plans to deliver two billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines to developing nations

Eastern Cape citizens don’t have to visit the labour department...

This measure, aimed at slowing the spread of Covid-19, may shortly be introduced in other regions.
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…