Media Freedom should be sacrosanct say Methodists
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
3 July 2016
The Methodist Church of Southern Africa is greatly disturbed by the alleged media muffling that is apparently happening at the SABC as is reported in the media. Press freedom is a fundamental cornerstone of any democracy and suggestions that this freedom is being compromised is cause for grave concern. The public has a right to free and unfettered news and information especially from the public broadcaster that is the only source of broadcast media for millions.
Allegations by journalists working for the SABC that the public broadcaster is self –censoring and thus controlling what the public should and should not see and know are alarming. The resignation of the acting CEO Jimmi Matthews and subsequent suspension of senior journalists by the SABC has intensified the misgivings we as the public have regarding the roiling turmoil at the broadcast
By its very definition, the public broadcaster should serve the interests of the public, and it is in the interests of the public and public accountability, for them to know the good, the bad and the ugly. The public cannot be treated like a child who needs to be ‘protected’ from the unsavoury aspects of life or an irrational individual who cannot be trusted not to imitate what they hear and see. We as a country cannot afford to sit back and watch the public broadcaster be turned into a state or government broadcaster that will spout only that which whoever is at the helm deems fit for public consumption.
“I am puzzled and concerned by the dangerous signs and news reports we are receiving concerning the public broadcaster the SABC- we cannot sit back and just watch when one of our hard won freedoms is in danger of being compromised through censorship- we lived through many years of pain because the media was driven by propaganda and we cannot allow this to happen again; what is happening at the SABC must be investigated and there must be urgent interventions. We must all defend media freedom,” Bishop Ziphozihle Siwa, Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church said whilst addressing a Methodist women’s conference in Kimberley
The SABC’s role in fostering an accountable democracy and informed public cannot be overstated especially because its reach goes beyond our very borders to several African countries. So as a church we take a stand on the side of the constitution which protects freedom of expression and of the press. The electorate has a right to know what is happening in their country.
We therefore call on the leadership of the SABC and the Minister of Communications to investigate these purported issues without delay and intervene as a matter of extreme urgency.
Statement released by Bishop Ziphozihle Siwa
Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa
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