The African National Congress is deeply shocked at the alleged muzzling of journalists at ENCA news channel. This against the backdrop of the unceremonious removal of political journalist Samkele Maseko, from ENCA offices and the subsequent suspension of his colleague, Khaya Khumalo. Information before us suggests that the pair was dealt with for failing to obey an unethical instruction by the editorial management to pull out of an assignment over the weekend. It is alleged that proper processes of withdrawing from an assignment were not followed.
Upon his ungrateful removal from his position, Mr Maseko took to social media to expose some of the apparent injustices that he endured as a journalist at ENCA. This, in the main, involved interference in the execution of his duties which, in our view, is tantamount to nothing but censorship. We are particularly appalled and shocked by the channel’s Head of News Kanthan Pillay for likening the journalists to rats in his response to Mr Maseko’s tweets. This is a gross violation of human rights.
We would like to remind Mr Pillay that media executives are not above the constitution and he should therefore conduct himself in a manner that upholds constitutional democracy at all times. The principle of equality applies to all in South Africa.
The ANC unreservedly supports media freedom and fully appreciates the role played by the media in bringing about freedom and democracy in South Africa. In fact, the ANC fought for media freedom and diversity during apartheid and we continue to value the importance of a free press as a watchdog and guardian of our society and its institutions. While the media correctly demands its freedom to discharge its responsibilities, the media equally has a responsibility to respect other people’s right to freedom of speech.
The ANC calls on the Press Ombudsma and the Human Rights Commission to investigate the abuse of journalists in various newsrooms and the possible violation of media ethics which appear to be prevalent across many newsrooms. The suppression of journalists in the newsrooms and the deafening silence is tantamount to the silencing of press freedom which the media demands but dismally fail to uphold in relatiom to their own journalists.
We further call on relevant authorities to embark on a market analysis process at ENCA to probe issues such racism and pay parity at the statio . We also call on trade unions, particularly COSATU, to champion the process of safeguarding workers’ right at ENCA and any other media institution.
The United Nations’ 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that ‘everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers’ . No one, including Mr Pillay, should undermine this universal declaration. We therefore call on all journalists who are ill-treated by management at ENCA to expose the company’s shenanigans.
ISSUED BY THE AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS
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