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.
Prime Minister Robert Mugabe’s address to the Zimbabwean nation in April 1980
(read the whole thing or, if life’s too short, the parts I’ve highlighted in bold.)
Long live our Freedom!
The final countdown before the launching of the new State of Zimbabwe has now begun. Only a few hours from now, Zimbabwe will have become a free, independent and sovereign state, free to choose its own flight path and chart its own course to its chosen destiny. Its people have made a democratic choice of those who as their legitimate Government, they wish to govern them and take policy decisions as to their future.
This, indeed, is the meaning of the mandate my party secured through a free and fair election, conducted in the full glare of the world’s spotlight.While my Government welcomes the mandate it has been freely given and is determined to honour it to the letter, it also accepts that the fulfillment of the tasks imposed by the mandate are only possible with the confidence, goodwill and co-operation of all of you, reinforced by the forthcoming support and encouragement of all our friends, allies, and well wishers in the international community. Read More…
Budget Speech by Pravin Gordhan, February 17, 2010
It is my privilege to present the first budget of the administration of President Zuma
to this House.
Last week we had the special honour of hosting former President Mandela in
Parliament. He exuded his inimitable magic. He reminded us of what we have
achieved in our struggle for freedom and in our democratic journey. He reminded us
that South Africans are capable of extraordinary things. We are, as you also
reminded us, Mr President, an extraordinary people.
Twenty years ago, we showed the world that we could unite around a common
cause – a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist South Africa. We showed ourselves,
and the world, that we could compete politically and yet find a shared understanding
on matters of concern to all of us – building a better South Africa for our children and
grandchildren. Read More…
THERE were some bright spots in Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation speech. He claimed he will hold ministers to account and develop a smarter, better administration. And he promised to overhaul schooling by getting classes to start on time. Yes, this is something we should be grateful for, believe it or not.
What was lacking was a vision, a direction, an idea to drive South Africa Inc. What are our strengths and weaknesses? How are we going to press home our strategic advantages on the world stage. What is our industrial development plan?
Instead we got a well-worn list of priorities that is, frankly, unconvincing. The pastiche of promises on jobs, crime and the like felt like luke-warm porridge served after a quick stir as fresh food.
Zuma’s planning and monitoring ministeries are supposed to provide him with the weapons to develop this sort of critical focus, but they seem to be operating with the urgency of a home affairs teller.
All of this means that we will continue to fall behind a world where competition for investment is ruthless and where the tolerance for governments that increase social spending even as their revenues fall is minimal.
Zuma could at least have used this stage to try and rebuild the credibility of his office. He might not know it but he is the running joke at the taxi ranks at the moment. He appears oblivious/unwilling/unable to address this crisis of legitimacy.
A lost opportunity.
I stand before you this evening, 20 years since President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela walked out of prison.
We have chosen this as the day to call this Joint Sitting of Parliament to deliver the State of the Nation Address, to celebrate a watershed moment that changed our country.
The release of Madiba was brought about by the resolute struggles of the South African people.
You will recall that the masses of this country, in their different formations, responded with determination to the call to make the country ungovernable and apartheid unworkable.
We are celebrating this day with former political prisoners who we have specially invited to join us.
We welcome in particular those who have travelled from abroad to be here, Helene Pastoors, Michael Dingake from Botswana, Mr Andimba Toivo ya Toivo of SWAPO in Namibia.
We are pleased to be joined by members of the legal team in the Rivonia Treason trial – Lord Joel Joffe, who is now based in London and Judge Arthur Chaskalson.
We also remember and pay tribute to Mr Harry Schwarz, who sadly passed away last week.
He was amongst other things, a member of the Rivonia defence team.
We extend our gratitude to our friends and comrades in the international community, for fighting side by side with us to achieve freedom.
We extend a special welcome to the Mandela family. Read More…
Mr Speaker, Members of Parliament.
THE GENERAL ELECTIONS on September the 6th, 1989, placed our country irrevocably on the road of drastic change. Underlying this is the growing realisation by an increasing number of South Africans that only a negotiated understanding among the representative leaders of the entire population is able to ensure lasting peace.
The alternative is growing violence, tension and conflict. That is unacceptable and in nobody’s interest. The well-being of all in this country is linked inextricably to the ability of the leaders to come to terms with one another on a new dispensation. No-one can escape this simple truth. Read More…
Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Distinguished Members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, citizens of America, and citizens of the world:
I receive this honor with deep gratitude and great humility. It is an award that speaks to our highest aspirations that for all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice.
And yet I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated. In part, this is because I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labors on the world stage. Compared to some of the giants of history who have received this prize Schweitzer and King; Marshall and Mandela my accomplishments are slight. And then there are the men and women around the world who have been jailed and beaten in the pursuit of justice; those who toil in humanitarian organizations to relieve suffering; the unrecognized millions whose quiet acts of courage and compassion inspire even the most hardened of cynics. I cannot argue with those who find these men and women some known, some obscure to all but those they help to be far more deserving of this honor than I. Read More…
OPENING ADDRESS BY SACP CHAIRPERSON, CDE GWEDE MANTASHE, TO THE SACP SPECIAL NATIONAL CONGRESS: 10 DECEMBER 2009.
Two and a half years ago Communists and the Alliance partner representatives gathered in the Nelson Mandela Metropalitan University to do a detailed analysis of the political situation in our country and chart the way forward for the party. At the time there were few challenges that we had to deal with: -
• Within the party structures there was a visible body that argued for the SACP standing for elections independently of the ANC.
• Alliance relations could be described in simple terms that there was general hostility and a strong drive to break the alliance.
• As a result Communists and COSATU were pushed to the periphery and their voice almost muzzled.
We then resolved to build a campaigning party. The Medium Term Vision was based on the understanding that communists must be in all centres of power. At the time it was understood that communist set themselves an objective of contesting ideologically wherever they found themselves. Read More…