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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

versão On-line ISSN 2224-7912
versão impressa ISSN 0041-4751

Tydskr. geesteswet. vol.49 no.1 Pretoria  2009


'n Terugkeer na die onderdrukking van vryheid van spraak? Ooreenkomste tussen die apartheids-regering(s) en die ANC se optrede teen die media


A return to the repression of freedom of speech? Similarities between the apartheid government(s) and the ANC's actions against the media



Pieter J Fourie

Departement Kommunikasiewetenskap, Universiteit van Suid-Afrika, Pretoria




Die doel van die artikel is om resente ontwikkelinge in die verhouding tussen die African National Congress-regering en die Suid-Afrikaanse media te dokumenteer. In weerwil van die ANC se meer liberale opvatting oor die rol van die media in die samelewing en in 'n demokrasie, word die vrees uitgespreek dat daar 'n terugkeer mag wees na onderdrukkende mediaregulering soos wat dit onder apartheid bestaan het. Ná 'n kort inleiding oor die ANC se Mediahandves, wat gesien kan word as die basis vir die erkenning en waarborg van vryheid van spraak in die Grondwet, asook 'n kort beskrywing van belangrike progressiewe ontwikkelinge wat die media ondergaan het sedert die ANC aan bewind gekom het, word die vrees gesubstansieer met die dokumentasie van spesifieke voorbeelde van media-onderdrukking in die apartheidsera en van die ANC se huidige hantering van die media. Daar word in die besonder op die volgende gelet: dreigemente van verskerpte regulering, die aantasting van die onafhanklikheid van die openbare uitsaaier, die diskreditering van die media, dreigemente om eie media aan te skaf, vrae oor die professionalisme vanjoernaliste, en die aanhitsing van konflik tussenjoernaliste. Die artikel eindig met 'n waarskuwing dat die stryd vir die voortbestaan van vryheid van spraak voortgaan en dat hierdie reg ten alle koste verdedig moet word.

Trefwoorde: Vryheid van spraak, sensuur, media regulering, interne media regulering, apartheid, African National Congress, Afrikaans, ideologie, rol van die media, mediareg, openbare uitsaaier, media-onafhanklikheid


The purpose of the article is to document recent developments in the relationship between the African National Congress (ANC) government and the South African media. In the article the fear is expressed that there may be a return to the repressive techniques and strategies of the apartheid government(s), despite the fact that the ANC has a far more liberal approach to the role of the media in society.
The article starts with a brief introduction to the ANC's Media Charter, which is seen to be the foundation of the Constitutional acceptance of freedom of expression. This is followed by an overview of some of the progressive transformations in the South African media since the ANC assumed political power. The above-mentioned fear is then substantiated with a systematic documentation, firstly, of how the apartheid government(s) has undermined and, secondly, of how the ANC is currently threatening the media with tighter regulation, more control, and with legal action, how it interferes with the independence of the public broadcaster, discredits the media, questions the professionalism of the media, and incites tension within the ranks of journalists.
Specific laws under apartheid that are referred to are the dreaded Publication Act of 1974, the Law on Internal Security of 1976, and measures to control the media under the various states of emergencies. Under the ANC the Films and Publications Amendment Bill (2003) and the Bill on the Protection of Information (2008) are cited.
As far as interference with the public broadcaster is concerned, references are made to the controversial Broadcasting Amendment Bill (2002) and recent efforts to interfere with the appointment of the SABC board.
As far as blaming the media and attacks on the media are concerned, numerous examples from the apartheid government to the ANC are dealt with, ranging from blaming the English and foreign press for misinterpreting the policies of apartheid to the ANC's constant criticism that the media are still mainly white owned and for that reason anti-government. Under both regimes there were efforts to acquire their own media. In this regard reference is made to the Information Scandal under apartheid, as well as recent reports about the ANC trying to purchase Johnnic Communications (2007) and in 2008 the Sowetan.
The apartheid government(s) were known for their commissions of enquiry into the press (media), often lasting for several years and resulting in the establishment of regulatory authorities (despite the presence of existing regulatory measures and/or organizations). The ANC now threatens with a Media Appeal Tribunal, despite the existence of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa), the Press Ombudsman and the Press Council, and the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA).
Finally, whereas government under apartheid intentionally or unintentionally created tension between Afrikaans and English speaking journalists, South Africa has recently experienced aflicker of tension between black and white journalists. The article warns that this may cause harm to the solidarity between journalists and that such solidarity is necessary for the well-being of freedom of expression.
In conclusion, the article warns that the above-mentioned actions against the media may contribute to increased self-censorship within the media, obviously with devasting effects for the media's task to inform and enlighten the public. The message being that in spite of Constitutional protection, the struggle for freedom of expression is continuing.

Key concepts: Freedom of expression, censorship, media regulation, internal media regulation, apartheid, African National Congress, Afrikaans, ideology, role of the media, media law, public broadcaster, media independence


Full text available only in PDF format. 



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1 Vir 'n meer volledige bespreking van sodanige ontwikkelinge, sien Fourie, Nel en Wigston (2006).
2 Oor die rol van die media in die samelewing, sien onder meer Berger (1999), Steenweld (2004), Fourie (2008).
3 Sien hieroor ook die meer resente boeke soos Editors under fire (Tyson 1993), Final deadline. The last days of the Rand Daily Mail (Gibson 2007), Believe in miracles. South Africa from Malan to Mandela and the Mbeki era: a reporter's story (Shaw 2008), The Guardian: The history of South Africa's extraordinary anti-apartheid newspaper (Zug 2007) en Writing left: The radical journalism of Ruth First (Pinnock 2007).
4 Sien ook Stemmet se artikel oor wetgewing onder apartheid in hierdie tydskrif.
5 Sien Abel (1995) vir 'n uitgebreide dokumentasie oor bostaande wette en regulasies.
6 Sien, byvoorbeeld, Hutton (2008).
7 Sien Croucamp se artikel in hierdie tydskrif oor die openbare uitsaaiwese.
8 Vir 'n geskiedenis van die SAUK onder apartheid, sien onder andere Louw en Tomaselli 1994.
9 Sien Fourie 2003 vir 'n bespreking van die beginsels van die openbare uitsaaiwese en die vroeë geskiedenis van die "nuwe" SABC.
10 Sien Duncan 2008 vir 'n evaluasie van Mbeki se rol in wat sy sien as die agteruitgang van vryheid van spraak in Suid-Afrika.
11 Sien ook Newmarch 2008 vir 'n volledige oorsig van die probleme by die SABC.
12 Vir voorbeelde hiervan, sien standaardbronne oor die geskiedenis van die media onder apartheid, waar onder, Hachten en Giffard, 1984; Abel, 1995; Shaw, 2008; Pinnock 2008; Zug 2008.
13 Sien, byvoorbeeld "Engaging the puppet master" in Mail&Guardian 27 Julie-2 Augustus 2000; "M&G and ANC slug it out in the high court" in Mail&Guardian 25-31 Mei 2001; "Media should be an open book" in Sunday Times 1 April 2001; "Media moet dans. Skaamtelose verwagting in ANC" in Beeld 16 Mei 2001.
14 Sien hieroor Fourie 2007(a) en 2008 oor ubuntuïsme as 'n normatiewe raamwerk vir mediapraktyk en -etiek.
15 Sien ook latere argumente vir die koop van eie ANC media gebasser op hierdie standpunt en die resolusies van die ANC Polokwane-kongres.
16 Vir 'n volledige beskrywing van die Inligtingskandaal, sien Hachten en Giffard 1984: 229-261.
17 Sien Hachten en Giffard 1984; Oosthuizen 1996.



Pieter J. Fourie is professor in kommunikasiewetenskap aan die Universiteit van Suid-Afrika waar hy ook vir sewentien jaar hoof van die Department was. Hy het meer as vyftig navorsingsartikels op die gebied van mediastudie, mediasemiotiek en film- en televisieteorie gepubliseer, asook 'n aantal boeke en hoofstukke in boeke oor die genoemde onderwerpe. Fourie is die afgelope 23 jaar die redakteur van die geakkrediteerde tydskrif Communicatio: South African Journal for Communication Theory and Research en op die redaksierade van 'n aantal navorsingstydskrifte op die gebied van die kommunikasiewetenskap. In 2003 het hy die Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns se Stalsprys ontvang vir kommunikasiewetenskap. In 2007 word hy verkies tot navorsingsgenoot van die International Communicology Institute (VSA). Sy mees onlangse boekpublikasie is as redakteur en skrywer van die tweede uitgawe van drie omvattende volumes in mediastudie, te wete: Media Studies Volume 1: Media History, Media and Society (2007), Media Studies Volume 2: Policy, Management, and Media Representation (2008); en Volume 3: Media Content and Media Audiences (2009), Kaapstad, Juta.

Pieter J. Fourie is professor in communication science at the University of South Africa where he was also head of the department for seventeen years. He has published more than fifty research articles in the field of media studies, media semiotics, and film and television theory, as well as a number of books and chapters in books on the above-mentioned topics. Fourie has been the editor of the accredited research journal Communicatio: South African Journal for Communication Theory and Research (published by Unisa Press and Routledge) for the past 23 years and serves on the editorial boards of a number of research journals in the field of communication and media studies. In 2003 he was awarded the Stals Prize for communication science in South Africa by the South African Academy of Science and Arts (die Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns). In 2007 he was elected fellow of the International Communicology Institute (USA). His most recent book publication is as editor and author of the second editions of the comprehensive three part media studies series (published by Juta, Cape Town), namely, Media Studies Volume 1: Media History, Media and Society (2007), Media Studies Volume 2: Policy, Management, and Media Representation (2008); and Volume 3: Media Content and Media Audiences (2009).

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