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South Africa journalists 'appalled' by proposed media regulation

South African journalists on Sunday expressed disdain [statement] for proposed media regulations that they claim will inhibit freedom of expression and media freedom. A declaration by South African Press Council [official website] chairman Raymond Louw criticizing the regulation was published in every major South African newspaper. Louw said he was "appalled" that the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) [party websites] are proposing a statutory media appeals tribunal. In regard to the regulation, he said:

It has nothing to do with promoting press freedom but everything to do with the way the press reports on the conduct of governance including the conduct of cabinet ministers and other senior officials of the party. They don't want the public to be told of their poor governance, corruption by "tenderpreneurs'' and lavish life-styles. They want the press to report the African National Congress's version of what is happening.
The appeals tribunal would adjudicate complaints [AFP report] on media stories and hold journalists legally accountable. The South African parliament is already considering a Protection of Information Bill, which journalists fear will hamper investigative reporting. Recently, there have been many reports on lavish spending on luxury vehicles by ANC leader and South African President Jacob Zuma [BBC profile; JURIST news archive].

The ANC won [JURIST report] control of the South African government in April 2009 but failed to win the two-thirds majority needed to change or amend the country's constitution and pass legislation on its own. This is not the first sign of tension between the ANC and the South African media. In 2005, the Johannesburg High Court banned the release [JURIST report] of a newspaper article revealing a corruption scandal involving the nation's ruling ANC, requiring South Africa's leading independent newspaper, the Mail and Guardian [media website], to prevent the distribution of its entire 45,000 issue run.

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