THE beauty of the ANC’s freshly released document, “Media Transformation, Ownership and Diversity” is the party’s refreshing admission that it loathes criticism.
But to get to the honesty you first have to negotiate the doublespeak. The invention of the term “doublespeak” has been wrongly attributed to George Orwell. But Orwell did invent the notion of “doublethink”.
Here’s the sentence in which it first made an appearance: “His mind slid away into the labyrinthine world of doublethink. To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them …”
The ANC’s document starts out as a sermon: “All of us have a responsibility to defend media freedom and editorial independence from any form of compulsion, be it political, economic or commercial.”
But the next paragraph starts with the telling qualification, “However”, and it is downhill from there. Sentences such as this appear: “(A) Cursory scan on the print media reveals an astonishing degree of dishonesty, lack of professional integrity and lack of independence.”
And: “The abuse of positions of power, authority and public trust to promote narrow, selfish interests and political agendas inimical to our democracy. This points to the fact that the problem of what is called ‘brown envelope’ journalism. This type of rot is a much more serious problem than the media is willing to admit.”
And the remedy? The “ownership and control” of the media must be addressed. “Freedom of expression needs to be defended but freedom of expression can also be a refuge for journalist scoundrels, to hide mediocrity and glorify truly unprofessional conduct. Freedom of expression means that there should be objective reporting and analysis which is not coloured by prejudice and self-interest.”
The proposal is that a Media Appeals Tribunal be established. Such a tribunal, the ANC is at pains to stress, would be accountable to parliament “instead of the ANC with all its bias and firm views”. It is hard to share the ANC’s faith in the independence of its MPs.
The truth about the media is very different to that which this document offers. The lion’s share of South Africa’s radio and television stations, which the ANC acknowledges reach an audience more than double that of print media, fall under the ambit of the public broadcaster, which some view as all but an official mouthpiece of the ruling party.
South Africa’s press is robust, highly competitive and diverse and, in the case of this newspaper’s owners, Avusa, has a strong empowerment shareholding.
But that’s not good enough. The ANC wants the mirror to say it is the fairest in the land, every hour, every day.
SOUTH African Airways is to go to court to recover some R31 million that it believes was spent without proper authorisation by former CEO, Khaya Ngqula.
The chair of the airline’s board, Cheryl Carolus said the money included some R27 million which Ngqula handed out to senior managers as “retention bonuses” and a further R3.8 million he spent on hospitality suites, junkets and the like.
Carolus’s move represents the first serious break with the long-standing tradition of punishing underperforming state functionaries with golden handshakes.
Ngqula left SAA with just such a handshake which cost the airline R8 million.
In the normal course of events, the departing miscreant’s files are left in an untidy pile next to the defunct photocopier on the stairwell.
Carolus is having none of this.
Based on an audit — which was commissioned by the previous board under then chairman Jakes Gerwel — she wants the public’s money back.
And so it should be.
The leadership of a corporation in as compromised a financial position as SAA should show a little modesty. Read More…
SELF-FULFILLING prophecy is the catch phrase that’s being thrown around to explain this week’s attacks on foreigners.
Some are angry with those who have published warnings that plans were afoot to launch attacks on foreigners after the World Cup.
They believe that unsubstantiated rumours have been given oxygen, in turn inspiring acts of aggression against foreigners.
Those who have published such stories have defended themselves, pointing out how the media’s a failure to heed such warnings combined with a failure by government to act two years ago resulted in a blood bath.
The reality is that this debate takes us nowhere. Read More…
We all felt it. That feeling that stirred somewhere deep within as Bafana Bafana took to the field exactly one month ago to sing the national anthem at the start of the football World Cup. We choked back the tears and we felt it.
Over the last month, we have all felt “it” many times during the tournament and it has become clear that we have more than exceeded the world’s expectations.
Now everyone wants to keep “it” and to turn “it” into the new national project. The common refrain is: “What are we going to do to keep ‘it’ alive after the World Cup?”
It is a very good question which deserves a serious answer. Read More…
Please note that this is not a hoax, but an official release from the Cuban Embassy!
“Reflections by comrade Fidel”
AN IMPOSSIBLE HAPPINESS
I promised that I would be the happiest man in the world to be wrong and, unfortunately, my happiness didn’t last.
The Football World Cup is still being contested and there are still six more days to go before the final match.
What a great opportunity will the Yankee imperialism and the fascist State of Israel possibly miss to keep the minds of the overwhelming majority of the people on Earth off their fundamental problems!
Who knows about the imperialists’ sinister plans towards Iran and their gross pretexts to attack it?
At the same time, I wonder, what are the Israeli warships doing, for the first time, in the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and Iran’s maritime areas?
Is it possible to think that the Yankee nuclear aircraft-carriers and the Israeli’s warships will leave the area, with the tail between the legs, when the demands contained in Resolution 1929 of June 9, 2010, approved by the UN Security Council are met, that is, the one authorizing the inspection of Iranian ships and aircraft in the territory of any State that, this time, allows the inspection of ships in the open sea? Read More…
Jackie Selebi, the former Police Commissioner, has been found guilty of corruption by Judge Meyer Joffe, making him the most senior South African to go down for this crime.
Selebi’s conviction is, on the face of it, strong evidence that the criminal justice system is once more showing its steel when it comes to crimes by senior political figures.
But it is not quite so simple. Selebi is yesterday’s man, a Thabo Mbeki appointment who no longer enjoys the political protection offered by those in high office in government and the ANC.
What is remarkable is that not one senior official – perhaps even junior official – from the current government of Jacob Zuma has been arrested for corruption.
Selebi could the last top politician to find himself at the mercy of the law because his timing was off.
This is very alarming. The disbandment of the Scorpions, the appointment of the blatantly political Menzi Simelane to head prosecutions and the failure of the Hawks to tackle any serious high level case all suggest that the fight against corruption has been suppressed by the current government.
And then there is the question of who else benefited from Selebi’s corruption, or who turned a blind eye to it? Could it really be that the national police commissioner operated as a lone wolf when it came to graft? I find that very hard to believe.
I am Ray Hartley, the editor of The Sunday Times in South Africa.
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