The Western Cape High Court’s decision to dismiss a case against Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete regarding interruption of the State of the Nation Address (Sona) broadcast earlier this year was welcomed by the ANC on Thursday.
“The Office of the ANC Chief Whip welcomes the judgment of the Western Cape High Court this morning dismissing Primedia’s case against the Speaker of the National Assembly regarding Parliament’s broadcasting policy,” said Chief Whip Phumelele Stone Sizani.
The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef), Primedia Broadcasting, Media 24, and others filed a court application in March 2015 relating to cellphone jamming and the interruption of broadcast during the start of Sona.
According to Sizani’s office, Primedia had argued Parliament’s policy had been “unconstitutional” as parliamentary cameras had not shown “certain happenings”. This included the removal of Economic Freedom Fighters members of Parliament (MPs) from the house.
“We agree with Parliament’s contention that not only is the broadcasting policy firmly in line with the constitution, but it is also totally reasonable and in place to protect the dignity of the legislature,” said Sizani.
Sizani said Parliament respected the rights of the media as enshrined in the Constitution’s bill of rights and it would “never unduly hinder media’s operations within its precincts”. He added that it was Parliament’s duty to never condone the “chaotic and unruly conduct of a few MPs”.
“As the ANC we regret that this matter had to go court as we believe it could have been resolved amicably between the two parties,” he said. – ANA