Sacrificing Poor Africans For Cash Nexus
Suppression and Propaganda
The advent of the Internet has finally given some racist White South Africans something to say which they have nave not been able to say for many decades. It is not like the South African Apartheid government did not use the media to defend its case against it s detractors overseas. There are ample examples of the how they did so.
They spent billions buying media conglomerates in the United States and Europe to present their case. It is worth noting that people say that they want the truth, but what they really want is a confirmation of what they already believe. People tend to define history through personal memories. There are some White folks in South Africa who believe that African history should be dealt in a positive light deemed right by them.
According to these White people, dwelling on the negative(meaning those that expose Whites and their blaming Africans for everything) only reinforces negative images of Africans among themselves and other races and also re-opens the "blame" wound that makes Whites uneasy That is some logic there! Perhaps the most important factor in public uneasiness is the knowledge gap.
Most people's images of Apartheid in South Africa and elsewhere is what the Radio, newspapers,TV and the Internet tells them it is or should or could be. Some define history in a political context, based on propaganda. Still others define history through mythos, a collection of interpretations of the past carried in expressive media such as songs, dances, movies, words-of-mouth and the internet.
But then, there is real history, the one which is analytical and it is also done through academic research. History will always be critical of mythos and memory because they have little to do with standards of evidence. It is this gap between how the average person perceives Apartheid - a simplistic White oppressor, Black Victim Story - and the much more complex historical record that poses a dilemma for many people. A lot of people, African and White, are afraid of a greater analytical view of these very problematic things of the past because it will not conform to their strongly held mythos.
So, what they do is conflate the feelings that they have today with what they imagine people felt during Apartheid. Most whites who are busy attacking Africans and African history of South Africa on the Net do not understand how difficult survival was and is-Spiritually emotionally and physically, for Africans - and that, that survival was strength and is still strength for Africans, today. And in this mix, one can begin to add the new ANC-led government, and its history will be dealt with below that of the one on Apartheid.
In Defense of the 'Vaderland' and the 'Volk' in the Media
Historical Perspective and Academic Analysis of Apartheid Media
In order for us to understand the Media Propaganda flourishing on the Internet by many Racist and unapologetic detractors of African people, we will be better served if we really put Apartheid Media into a proper Historical Perspective. To understand the present vitriol on the Web against African people in South Africa by White people, we will delve into some research in order to paint a much clearer picture.
Today it is very easy for White bloggers and Internet users in South Africa to assail African people from every angle conceivable. It is true that of the 45% of Internet users in South Africa, fewer than 3% are African users. This is due to imposed poverty, ignorance and many other shenanigans applied by those who still uphold the values and life-style of Apartheid and will not let it go.
In order for South African Africans to understand this concentrated and vicious effort against them it is important to put the history of the South African press into a propers perspective; African people were not included nor consulted on their opinions or points of view by the colonial government of the day. When the Afrikaners undertook their "Great Africa," they did so with the hope that will create Republics conducted to their own liking.
But the discovery of diamonds and gold brought about fortune seekers who began to intrude on how these new "Boer Republics " were run, and the intruders were backed-up by the Newspapers they brought along with them. In 1800, The Cape Times Gazette made its debut. It carried government notices and paragraphs of news. Within three months, the governor withdrew its printing monopoly and bought the press. Lord Somerset proceeded by sending the press to a remote 'frontier' village in Graff Reinett on the Western Cape Coast, where it was used to print government forms(Varley, 1962)
By then, Thomas Pringle and John Fairbairn, in January 7, 1824, ran the first issue of South Africa's first independent press, 'The South African Commercial Advertiser.' The Commercial Advertiser printed proceedings of a court case that dealt with allegations of corruption in Somersert's administration. By this time, the governor had just returned from leave in London. Before he left for England, the Governor had asked Pringle and his colleague to submit proof sheets to his office before publication.
The issue duly appeared under these conditions. Pringle was summoned before the governor,whom he found with the South African Journal lying open before him. Pringle wrote: "'So , sir,' he began, 'you are one of those who dare to insult me and oppose my government,' and he launched into a long tirade of abuse; 'scolding, upbraiding and taunting, with all the domineering arrogance of mien and sneering insolence of expression of which he was so great a master'(Pringle, Narrative. p. 89) Despite further difficulties, the press won when in April Somerset was recalled to London.
From then on, papers rapidly expanded into the interior. A list of newspapers listed in the Colonial office of Cape Town in 1891 included names of more than 125 assorted journals(Cory, 1913). In this part, one begins to see officialese arrogance and harsh attitude and stance being taken by individual people in power, and in the later years that spun into policy and then law.
The reaction of the Dutch Settlers and Colonists was to set up a journal to counteract Fairbairn's newspaper. De Zuid Afrikaans appeared in 1828 and according to an Afrikaner historian, was obliged from the outset not only to fight against "radicalism of the negrophilist philanthropists," but also frequently to defend the name of the Dutch residents against libel of the British in the Cape(Greig, 1963) and to fight and preserve the Boer Culture and the "Vaderland"(Fatherland) through the press. To the Dutch, the terms "free press" and "independent press" came to mean dominating African populations and the control of intellectual property and content and academic superiority and superior complexes over African people.
In 1858 Cape Town had eight newspapers of Which the Cape Argus, a commercial newspaper survived and spawned Africa's largest newspaper chain. Before long, The Argus was the only triweekly in the Cape and claimed the largest circulation. This newspaper printed a special supplement prepared by correspondents in London. In 1876, The Argus, together with the mining and commercial interests formed The Argus Printing and Publishing Company. The discovery of gold in 1872, in the eastern Transvaal and in 1886 in the Witwatersrand(the areas of what is today known as Johannesburg[or Gauteng]} brought about hundreds of prospectors and fortune seekers.
The diggers or "Uitlanders"[Foreigners], as the Boers called them, had little sympathy for the Boer government. Pro-digger newspapers like the Gold Fields Mercury and the Argus were very critical of the government, denouncing it as corrupt and inefficient(this theme , as will be seen, is recurring today against the ANC-led government in the South Africa press). In 1889, the Argus Printing and Publishing Co., limited was formed. It was a collusion of English newspapers in Johannesburg, Kimberley and London.
The Cape Argus was then called the Star, and changed from a triweekly to a daily newspaper(Neame, 1956; Rosenthal, 1970). The British and the Boers were on a collision course. The merging of big British capital and the British newspapers brought resentment from the Afrikaners, and this is what partly led to and culminated into the Anglo-Boer war at the turn of the century.
One of the key players in this war was Cecil John Rhodes. He was one of the richest men in South Africa at the time. In 1871, he opened diamond mines in Kimberley, known as the De Beer Consolidated Mines. As a private citizen, Rhodes also had gold mining interests in the Transvaal. Using that toehold, he developed a plan that he hoped would bring about British power to the Transvaal Boer Republic. He sent some of his Henchmen to stir up unrest amongst the "Uitlanders," getting them to agitate for voting and other rights. In 1895, acting on his orders, Rhodesian troops(today known as Zimbabwe) staged a raid on the Transvaal with the hope that it would set off a revolt which would finally oust he Boers from power.
This attack, which came to be known as the Jamieson Raid - because it was led by Jamieson, was botched, and Rhodes' plan failed(Caldwell, 1975; Le Seur, 1913). The Jamieson raid damaged relations between the Boers and the British beyond recall. The raid affected the press. In 1896 President Kruger passed a law requiring the press to disclose the names of printers and publishers. This law also gave the State President the right to ban the distribution of publications which were perceived to be breaking the law of the Transvaal Republic. Kruger took these moves to protect his government against the British press attacks.(van Jaarsveld, 1961)
The reasons for the Anglo-Boer War lay in a combination of strategic, political and economic factors. When the war started in 1899, the Kruger government shut down the British Press. On the other hand, the British arrested Afrikaner editors and shut down the circulation of Dutch newspapers in all British colonies. When the British defeated the Boers, they were sure that the press would never be anti-British again.
They put the press under the control of the Argus Company. (Pemberton, 1964) It is in this tradition of 'robust British-type press freedom,' established in the last century, and has come under pressure in the 20 Century, that the press found itself caught in conflicts of a deeply polarized society, to-date in the 21 century. It was a press caught between a divided English and Afrikaner public, and both the English and Afrikaners caught between African nationalism of the 20 century, and the new neocolonial, post-apartheid petit African bourgeoisies of the 21 century.
The Afrikaners emerged from the Anglo Boer War a defeated and impoverished nation. The war was a White man's war. But, rarely discussed, was the participation of Africans in the war- and that is for another topic in another Hub. Nonetheless, it has been recorded that Africans helped on both sides of the war — and thousands of them died in concentration camps, but their contributions as fighters was not and is still not yet acknowledged. Nor had any nations that were conquered by the Whites during the late sixteen hundreds had a chance to seize the moment of white division. British armies had crushed African resistance and black power structures and were also in a position to impose their will on the Afrikaners (Sol Plaatjie, 1974)
But two of the most successful Boer Guerrilla leaders, Smuts and his commander-in-chief,General Louis Botha, led a movement for conciliation. The liberals in London and the Afrikaner 'conciliators' revived the idea that they should amalgamate. They set about forming a united South Africa in which the English and the Dutch speaking people would bury their differences. Africans were not included nor invited to these talks. The others that were included were the gold mining companies and a growing class of Afrikaner large-scale farmers who needed a stable permanent settlement and a large cheap labor force.
To secure a government that would guarantee both, they formed an alliance of gold and maize. With the British looking on benignly and helping where they could, the leaders of South Africa assembled. They had many differences, but within a couple of years, Afrikaners and the British framers and mine owners from the interior, traders and plantation owners from the seaboard, agreed to merge — not as a mere federation, But a Union, with overriding powers given to central government (Le May 1965).
The Afrikaners were quick to mobilize their political power against the British Imperialist gestures. They refused to serve on the proposed legislative council, declaring that self-government alone would satisfy them. In fact, by 1904, several hundred Afrikaners in Pretoria established their first major political organization, "Het Volk." It focused on Afrikaner grievances over restrictions on their use of the Dutch language and over the administration of relief funds.(Davenport, 1966)
The devastation of the Anglo-Boer War had turned the Afrikaner in the Transvaal and the Orange Free State into an impoverished people. The landless poor whites had become a serious problem into he Transvaal even before the war. Many Boers were no longer self-sufficient and independent. Consequently, these barely literate indigent Whites began another Great Trek.
They moved from the rural outbacks into the burgeoning towns and cities. They arrived with essentially no better skills that the Africans who also left the rural areas to seek urban employment. In other words, Whites in South Africa were on equal footing with the Africans. Many of these poor, uneducated and unskilled Afrikaners gravitated towards the famous war veteran, General B. Hertzog.
He eloquently articulated their fear that their 'civilization' would be obliterated by the technologically superior civilization of the British Speakers. Hertzog crystalized the Afrikaner movement in 1914 with the formation of the 'National Party'. From that time to this day, the National Party has been the major vehicle for Afrikaner Nationalism(Vatcher, 1965) The movement was further boosted in 1915 with the founding of he newspaper, Die Burger in Cape Town, under the editorship of D.F. Malan.
This was the first daily Afrikaans-language paper in South Africa. It was complemented in 1938 by the Transvaaler, edited by Hendrick Verwoerd. Die Burger began in less than promising circumstances. The country was under martial law and Die Burger was suspected of pro-German leanings. During the First World War, Die Burger was cautious to avoid suppression. Its readership was predominantly rural people or city dwellers of modest means who had little purchasing power to attract advertisers. However, it developed and propagated the policy of the National Party in its news and editorial columns. Malan made Die Burger the shield and sword of Afrikanerdom (Sachs, 1975; Scholtz, 1974)
During the second World War, Jan Smuts, as Prime Minister, decided through a series of informal arrangements and committees to seek the cooperation of newspapers in critical war effort matters. Although the Afrikaans newspapers were hostile to the war efforts, they knuckled down to the informal arrangements because they felt that these were preferable to full scale censorship.
Meanwhile, the attitude of The Transvaaler was even more ambivalent. On one hand it attacked those who openly sided with the Nazis of Germany. But on its columns it sounded ore like the Nazi Radio (Neame, pg. 41; Herzstein, 1987) Dr. Verwoerd was a big Nazi sympathizer and he even studied in Germany. But the British established a pattern of internalized control and self censorship that became a corrosive feature of the South African press.
The issue that divided the British and the Boers, and the newspapers that represented them, was centered on the external policies of the government. The Afrikaans press realized that it was more profitable to focus on internal policies and specifically on the questions of race. This is what the Afrikaners/English press is doing to the ANC-led government today. One now becomes aware as to where all this press hullaballoo of the proposed media tribunal historically originates from.
The English press, with its close links with a wider Anglo-American social reality, reflected the West's growing revolution against Nazi racism and "authoritarianism," pressed for more liberal policies in South Africa. In 1942, a government commission recommended important reforms in the educational, social and health conditions of urban African. Although the Smuts government had taken the country to war on the side of the allied forces, and also introduced some reforms in South Africa, it was far form liberal in its approach to race relations.
The difference between its attitude to the country's traditional segregationists policies and that of the nationalist was one of degree, not kind. However, the country's booming wartime economy, spurred by industrial development to produce arms and munitions, had drawn an increasing number of Africans into the labor market.
Apartheid Media and White Supremacy
When the Afrikaner Nationalist Party came into power in 1948, it was bent on implementing apartheid and entrenching White supremacy in government. The attitude of the government towards the press was not rooted in the Pringle-Fairbairn tradition, but rather in filial relationship between the Afrikaans press and the Afrikaner nationalist movement, or the "Het Volk".
The Afrikaans newspaper had arisen as part of the 'volk' movement, and as instruments in the ethnic mobilization of the Afrikaners. Although they were allowed a measure of freedom to criticize the political leadership and test reactions to new ideas, it was expected that their criticism would be temperately phrased and essentially constructive in approach.
The essence of the relationship was that the newspapers would at all times be loyal to the movement; not harm the government with embarrassing reports, and would as an instrument of communication between the movement's leadership and its followers. At election times,the Afrikaans press sounded the trumpet call to rally the 'volk' to the Party's support.
In short, it was a 'patriotic' press in the narrow context of the ethnic political movement it served. When the Nationalist government came into power, the press was still expected to be loyal and patriotic when it came to larger 'national interests'. This included reports on the implementation of Apartheid and the international reactions to it; the press was expected to be loyal and patriotic at all times. Under traditional authoritarianism, the press operated outside of the government and was permitted to gather and publish news, but it had to function for the 'good of the state'.
The government usually left the press alone if it did not criticize authority or challenge the leadership in any way. If the press attacked or embarrassed the government. Then the political authority intervened, imposed censorship or even closing down publication and jailing editors. The government arrived at this logic at a position where it was apparent that the dissemination of information, ideas and opinions among members of the community necessarily had a negative effect towards the government. Sometimes, as we shall later see, this effect was immediate, and at other times 'remote' also, we'll see this play itself out in the same manner under the ANC-led government. In fact, what the media restrictions limited most was the ability of its receivers to know the full story of events that lay behind newspaper editorials.
Other Apartheid's Myriad and Media Laws
The Nationalist Apartheid government immediately began to implement racial segregation or Apartheid through a series of laws. The Prohibition or Mixed Marriages Act of 1949 made intermarriages between races illegal the population Registration Act allocated every South African to a specific racial group. The immorality Act made sex across color lines illegal. The English press reflected the human suffering wrought by Apartheid legislation on the society.
This made for sensational headlines: prominent people committing suicide after being arrested under the immorality Act; families split under the Population Registration Act; Arrests and banning under the Suppression of the Communism Act. The English press through this type of reportage, continued to believe that it was practicing its traditional press freedom and in the process embarrassed the government even more. The Nationalist government perceived this as disloyalty prepared to damage national interests for the sake of partisan political gain. The government increased political pressure to control this inveterate disloyalty through close government monitoring (The Star, 1950)
The press commission was set up in 1950. It sat for eleven years as an intimidating inquisition. Its charge included the concentration of control of the press and its effect on the editorial opinion and comment and the presentation of news. The press had been served a notice that it activities were under scrutiny ad was warned to watch its steps.(Giffard, 1975) This sound like and look like the direction which ANC is going with its proposal of a Media tribunal.
J.G. Strydom succeeded Daniel Malan as Prime Minister in 1954. By this time, segregation had been enforced in almost all public places: libraries,churches, theaters and so on. The Extension of University Education Act set up four ethnic colleges for Africans, but restricted admission of other races into the traditional White universities. Africans were compelled to carry passes or reference books(got scrapped towards the end of Apartheid).
Multiracial Congresses were shut down. Inevitably, the press reflected in its reporting and comments the growing polarization in the land. Strydom regarded the English press as the enemy of the government. But at the same time, the government remained relatively unfettered by the negative reporting about Africans. (Hepple, 1974) Apartheid had in fact suppressed authentic African politics, which were really the politics of opposition. This suppression systematically affected both institutions and the press.
A key measure in achieving this shut-down of the opposition was application of the Suppression of Communism Act. This Act prohibited newspapers from quoting the utterances, past of contemporaneous, of any person place under a special restriction called the "Banning Order". Similarly, newspapers could not publish anything deemed to further the aims of any banned organization. This was he law used to ban the ANC, PAC, BCM and 37 other organizations.
This made it impossible for newspapers to report authentically to report on African politics for over 20 years. The copy-edition of the White newspapers were constantly on the alert and kept an up to date list of 'banned' persons in a tickler box on the copy desks(Phelan, 1985; Mathews, 1971; Mathews, 1981)
Slowly the net tightened. Defense matters were placed out of bounds, except when publications were authorized by the Defense authorities themselves. The Official Secrets Act was tightened under the title of "The Protection of Information Act"(The ANC is using the same terms and Act to create a media tribunal). Reporting on activities of the police ad on prison conditions was made hazardous through a cunning position that reversed the onus of proof: 1.e., newspapers had to prove that they had taken 'reasonable steps' to establish that what they published was rued.
This meant, for example, that newspapers could be prosecuted for publishing any 'untrue matter' about the police. For example, if a policeman tortured, assaulted or killed someone, the press wold have to ask the police themselves whether the allegations were true. If they denied, which they routinely did, the newspapers could publish that information at their own risk. This in turn cost them large sums in lawyer fees and tied up senior editors and key reporting staff for months on legal consultation and court appearances(Pollack, 1981; Potter, 1975)
All these laws were in force before the special press restrictions were enunciated in 1986. The laws of the 1986 State of Emergency were already enough to fill a thick legal volume that every South African journalist kept on his desk as an essential book of reference. There were more than 120 laws restricting what could be reported in may areas of activity; for example, the police, defense,prisons, official secrets, key points, oil supply, nuclear energy, the quoting of banned organizations or promoting their aims, the quoting of a banned person/s, remarks held to foster racial hostility, photographing and or publishing pictures of prisons, prisoners and so forth, are a few areas subjected to restriction. (Moseki, 1988; Stuart and Klapper, 1982)
To avoid the implementation of these threats, the newspaper proprietors agreed to establish a press Council in the early 1970s. It was created to enable the press to monitor and censor itself. And it had powers to reprimand and fine the newspaper found guilty of breaching the code of conduct (McKay, 1988)
According to Percy Qoboza, "Reporting and editing a newspaper in South Africa in the 1980s was like walking through a minefield blindfolded". (Qoboza , 1984) A journalist who wanted to get ahead was expected to show that he was at least half a businessman who understood and had a finely developed sense of what pleased the Ad agencies and paper owners. The journalist was expected to take this into account before exposing police brutality or the torture of detainees. On the other hand, they had to be wary of security agents and government legislation. (Hachten, 1979)
In the final analysis, the press got entangled with immediate-future preoccupations, viz.., the economics of circulation; rationalization between publishing companies and an increasing concentration on business journalism; news that was politically safer and economically more sensible was fully exploited. Maintain and holding tight to Ad agencies Only through a genuine social revolution could there be a return to Pringle-Fairbairn press tradition.
But until then, the press under apartheid faced an authoritarian and recalcitrant regime. Further on we will show the press has been used by White people to blame the victims of apartheid(Africans) which they say that the condition they find themselves in, meaning Africans, was their own doing.
The African Press Under Colonialism and Apartheid Rule
The first newspaper for Africans in South Africa, Imvo Zabantsundu(African Opinion), was founded in 1884 by John Tengo Jabavu. By the 1930s,the number of registered African newspapers were 19. At about that time, literate Africans constituted about 12.4 percent of the adult African population. This reading intelligentsia was made up of members and office bearers of proliferating independent African political and cultural or economic organizations that sought to generate accoutrements of middle-class lifestyles. The voluntary organizations which they established and the activities which they became personally involved were publicized in their journals survived the Great Depression of 1929-1932. After 1932, The Bantu World was founded and came to represent African point of view and reportage(Switzer, 1979)
After 1932, The Bantu World was founded and came to represent in form as well as in content all issues African. But it was owned by the Argus Company, a White, inevitably capitalist firm, and could not be trusted. The Bantu World attracted corporate and financial interests that provided the newspaper to develop rapidly as a business enterprise with fully fledged editorial, advertising, accounting, printing and circulation departments.
At the same time, the newspaper became a resource center for training Africans in the skills needed to run a successful business; for example, they were trained to work as printers, truck drivers, typists, clerks, salesmen, advertising personnel, as well as journalists(Walshe, 1971). Social control in the newsroom did not have to be communicated officially because Tema, the editor and subsequent editors of the "Bantu Press" and those that followed conformed to the policies of the newspaper proprietors(Couzens, 1977)
The Bantu World became a trendsetter from an elite to a mass audience. By 1946, African literacy had increased to 21.3 percent. Only the Bantu World and Unmteteli wa Bantu(Speaker of the People), were regarded as national papers. The former circulated mainly in the Transvaal and Swaziland; the latter circulated in the Reef(Johannesburg and Vaal Triangle, Ciskei, Transkei, KwaZulu and Bophutatswana(Friedgut, 1949; Couzens, 1977) Suppression of African perspectives, even in bland and moderate forms was considered essential to the maintenance, and by extension, the very survival of Afrikaner dominance.
During the 1960s and 1970s, newspapers expanded coverage of African news (an area long ignored), but was gradually recognized by some White newspapers who began to publish 'specials' or 'extras' for African readers. As a result, the English papers in particular, began using African journalists, and in the process, reported more Black news in the 1960s and 1970s.
Though no independent African or White press existed during the Apartheid era, there were publications that were edited and published with the African reader in mind. What can be called the African Press in during the realities of Apartheid South African could be described this way:
1. The English press became a 'surrogate' press for Africans especially in papers like the Rand Daily Mail(banned) Daily Dispatch, Sunday Times and others.
2. There were weekly African orientated papers such as the Imvo Zabantsundu(Xhosa) Ilanga (Zulu) Bona(See - in Sotho, Zulu and Xhosa people and the Cape Herald [For Cape Coloreds].
3. Bantu world, came to be known as The World, World, (both owned by Argus) was banned in 1977, and was succeeded by Sowetan. It was produced by an African staff and edited for Africans .
4. Golden City Press, s Sunday paper for Africans in Johannesburg, founded in 1982 (which was filling a void of the banned Post) and was owned by the Argus. (Switzer, 1988)
Thus, there was no independent and free African press in South Africa during the hey-days of Apartheid rule. A combination of political pressure and economic failure saw them closed down or taken over. In its determination to silence the African political opposition, the government had closed eleven newspapers in 40-plus years. Five of them newspapers specifically for Africans, and the other six were left-wing papers with a high African new content. It is therefore clear that the Apartheid State was bent of crushing African Press, its content and existence in a period of forty years or more.
Other African newspapers either went out of business or were taken over by White commercial companies, some of them went pro-government Afrikaans Press Companies. For example, Imvo Zabantsundu was now published by Perskor, the most racially conservative of the Afrikaans newspaper companies. City Press and Drum Magazine, both publication of honorable provenance in the African struggle, were owned by a rival Afrikaans publishing house, Nasionale Pers(Naspers). The Sowetan, a daily paper, was owned by the English-language group, The Argus Printing company newspaper, which in turn was effectively controlled by the giant Anglo American Mines(Rubin, 1981).
The African press was less free, during Apartheid , to print the news it saw fit to print. This was partly because of White ownership, encouraged by Apartheid legislation. And inevitably, the African press reflected the White perspectives and perceptions in its reportage of news. The government kept a hawkish eye on the African press because it considered it a potential enemy. Joe Latagkomo, former editor of Sowetan, neatly summed the Steyn Reports accusations that the 'black press — meaning Sowetan, and some few others fomented discontent and lacked loyalty, responded in 1982 thus: "We do not believe any of these statements to have been true either for the The World, The Weekend World, Post, Sunday Post or now for the Sowetan.
What those newspapers did was precisely what this same commission suggests the Afrikaans press did not do: The Afrikaans press failed, the report says, to adequately report on the hopes and frustrations of the black community. We reported on those hopes and frustrations. We did not call on the government to pull down shacks and leave people in the cold… They came and we reported it. We did not create community councils such as that which received a disastrously low poll in Soweto. The government did and we reported it. We did not detain people without trial, ban them, deport e\them. The government did and we reported it. We did not fail to provide housing for the people.
The government did and we reported it. We did not make racist statements at public meetings. Some government people did, and we reported them.... Who creates the climate for labor unrest, for school unrest? Why did thousands of kids flee from the country of their birth to take up arms? The government created all this. We will report it. The government suggests there are a great deal of "moderates" who are "embarrassed" by our newspapers. We would suggest that both the government and the commission are out of touch with the situation. We know the hatred. We know the bitterness that this system creates. We are part and parcel of it. We feel it; we sleep it.
I am convinced that nobody will be able to run a black newspaper which serves as a mirror of society without threats from the government. There are too many government-created ills which cannot simply be washed away. The government must stop deluding itself that there are thousands of "moderate" backs who would buy an alternative paper which would dish out the news a la TV 2 and 3"(Black TV channels)
The laws that were administered in an attempt to regulate the press were not theoretically blind, so was their administration not biased and not blind. Even before the State of Emergency, when no one could keep up with the more than eight thousand general detentions (officially admitted by the administration under parliamentary pressure), the number of detentions and arrests among black journalists, relative to all other journalists, was markedly greater. Up to early 1987, no Afrikaner journalist had ever been detained.
From 1976 to 1981, the period immediately before Mr. Latakgomo's editorial, fifty black journalists were detained for up to five hundred days; ten were detained more than once; ten were banned; and one was arrested, tried, and sentenced to seven years on Robben Island(where Mandela was imprisoned), known as the South Africa Devil's Island. In the same period, white journalists suffered suffered one detention, one banning and one six-year jail sentence.
When one realizes that, during the period analyzed, there were fewer than two hundred and fifty mainstream black journalists,but over thirty-five hundred white journalists, the disparity in applied pressure is unmistakably enormous"(William A. Hachten and C. Anthony Giffard, 1984) Black journalists were often assaulted and tortured in their encounters with security forces. Few have escaped this brutality and several have suffered permanent injury as a result of it (Lelyveld, 1985).
The clamping down of African resistance in the sixties crushed black journalism too, and for a while it went into decline. However, it recovered and entered a new phase with the demands of the 1976 Soweto Uprisings. At this time, racial explosion and violence made it impossible for White reporters to enter Black Townships. For months on end, Black reporters risked their lives to get the story. They continued to do so throughout the 1980s State of Emergencies, up to the time when Mandela became President.
In the Area of official information and propaganda, the Nationalist Party has used public communication to persuade and influence pubic opinion and perceptions both in South Africa and abroad. From Daniel Malan, J.G. Strydom, J.B. Vorster, P.W. Botha to F.W. de Klerk, all have been closely linked with Afrikaner newspapers, the government created and information vacuum on Black politics to its White electorate. South Africa was a divided country and it is still a divided country even today.
The political opposition that was silenced was also segregated. Africans were physically removed from the presence of those who had power, except to the extent that they met in their working relationship. 'Thus, the White people, who were voting, did not see the consequences of the policy they kept voting for. They did not see the consequences of the violent repression meted out on black in the Townships, just a stone throw away. Life in their White suburbs was tranquil, orderly and affluent' (Crapanznao, 195)
There was no sense of commitment as the race problem became abstracted into a subject during the evening meal, on the part of Whites. In this vacuum, the government had indoctrinated the White population over time to regard black majority rule as unacceptable.
With TV, the press and radio closed and controlled, blacks could not counter this smear campaign or get themselves heard and judged in their own right. The same is true today, due to poverty and a predatory African-led government, Africans cannot defend themselves adequately because they cannot afford computers nor pay for the Internet so that they can counter the smear that is viscously and heartlessly used with callous vitriol and information to smear them, nor will they be able to be heard and judged in their own right, for a long time to come. Meanwhile, on the Web, contemporaneously, the same campaign used by the Apartheid government to put down Africans in the eyes of the world, is being used by ordinary Whites, on the Internet, to carry on that African Smear Campaign vociferously packed and packaged in hideous and damning vitriol.
Apartheid Was Good For Africans...
Apartheid and Technology
The colonization, gathering, dissemination, spin, and control has been within the purview of the Colonial and Apartheid media from the 1800s to today. The Hub above gives the history of the press and many attempts made to control it then and for 2010 years. The Apartheid rulers upped the ante when they passed a series of laws designed to curb, censor and dictate what could and should be reported. The Apartheid government in South Africa was uncomfortable with both the freedom permitted the independent press and the criticism the government drew from restricting the press.
The cultural shape freedom of expression assumed in the legal structure of South Africa was of unique interest. The South African media system exists within a symbolic Apartheid system of its own. At one hand of the media spectrum was the South African Broadcasting Corporation(SABC), the state monopoly for all television and almost all radio, and served as the arm of the state. On the other hand were the print media and organs of the African labor unions and communities, which focused on particular grievances caused by living under apartheid. In the middle was the establishment press: there was the Afrikaans loyalist press along with its assertive and dissenting wing on the right.
Next came the English newspapers and magazines which ranged from apolitical sex and soccer tabloids, to brave antiApartheid journals mostly from the left. Also, there were student and church publications with political viewpoints; usually from a sharply left or right perspective. Lastly, there were the non-broadcast audiovisual media, from rock to reggae, 'volk' to Mbaqanga music, live theater and movie houses and funeral orations to community-based meetings and rallies, and the like.
The technological communications media ecology was dominated by SABC, which was fiercely loyal to the Apartheid government. It accounted for nine out of ten radio listeners and TV viewers. It was also dominated by a section made up of four commercial media corporations, similar to those that dominated print media. Only three of the country's two dozen racially and linguistically targeted radio stations were not controlled by the Pretoria regime through the SABC. Of the three, two were owned by the Homeland governments: Radio Bop(Bophutatswana) and Capital Radio(Transkei). The third one was owned by the Press Conglomerates and operated from the Bophutatswana Bantustan (Tomaselli R. and Thomaselli K., 1987)
Four of the country's five TV Stations were run by SABC. The fifth was controlled by the four print media groups. With the exception of two Bantustan stations and the press owned M-Net TV Station, which broadcast nondescript content and substance; both radio and TV in South Africa broadcast words and images of the world that were powerfully pro-government and pro-Apartheid. All broadcast media was commercial because they all relied on advertising and consumer revenues. The press barons had not been slow in recognizing that bad new meant bad business.
And South Africa's print media involved first and foremost, business ventures, as has been discussed above. Print media ownership, as stated above in the Hub, was concentrated in the hand of four press groups, and three of these, Argus, Times Limited(TML) and Nasionale Pers were owned and controlled by Anglo American Corporation and Sanlam Giants, respectively of English and Afrikaner Capital. (Giffard, 1980). Anglo and Sanlam also owned or controlled, through their press of subsidiaries, the country's paper cartel, its three print media centers, network and the national news agency wire service(Lacob, 1982). The fourth of the print media giants, Perskor, was equally tied into Afrikaner capital through effective control by the Rembrandt Corporation and the Volkskas Bank (Pogrund, 1976).
Clearly all organs of media companies were white owned and controlled, as is still the case today.
By this time, the Argus newspaper, the biggest of the four, accounted for more than 55 percent of all daily newspapers bought in South Africa. In surveying the media environment in South Africa, it must be borne in mind that most South Africans had limited access on what they read. South Africa, with a largely educated white population - 3 million,(See My Hub on "African South Africans and the June 16 1976 Revolt: Sad Times, Bad Times - Aluta Kontinua, AMANDLA, POWER!), and a middle class of only 4 million Africans who were literate out of 30 million Africans and has a low circulation of print media (Sparks, 1988)
By 1960, twelve years after the Nationalist came to power, the police fired on African demonstrators in Sharpeville, and this came to be known as the 'Sharpeville massacre. The police slaughtered people like cattle; shooting them from behind as they tried to run away, and it was officially estimated that sixty-eight people died from that massacre. The Suppression of Communism Act, passed shortly thereafter, gave the government power and excuse to execute demonstrators. But the violence did not abate after the law was enacted. The hot points on the the calendar of grievances, form the 1960 massacre,to the 1985-1987 States of Emergencies, resulted in thousands of deaths and detention (Spong, 1986)
A sampling of the powers that the government held and has exercised, indicates the scope of the restraints on the freedom of the press:
a. The government had unlimited power to close down newspapers as it did in 1977 with The World and the Weekend World, and the successors, The Post and The Sunday Post(1979), New Nation (1987), Rand daily Mail (1986), etc.
b. A more insidious power, because its exercise was not widely known or understood, was the requirement that a new newspaper register and deposit R40,000.00 ($20,000.00), as a guarantee of 'good behavior' which may be forfeited if the publication errs in the opinion of the government do the day. An untold number of small papers, reflecting African and dissident opinion, had in effect been smothered in the cribs by this extreme form of registration power.
c. Authorities can achieve a measure of press control by banning the journalists themselves — those whose stories, associations, or activities displease government officials. This power has been exercised with great frequency in the 1980s, particularly against black journalists associated with black trade union, MWASA. Banned persons could not attend meetings, whether political, social, or business. And this was done as an effort to put people under 'house arrest'. The banning of a journalist, black or white, was a harsh action, denying them jobs, livelihood, and severely restricting their personal freedom in general.
d. Even harsher than banning was detention, especially if the dreaded Section Six of the Terrorism Act was invoked. Detention provisions were devoid of due process. They included arbitrary arrest and incarceration without charges of trial for indefinite periods of time. Journalists could and did disappear for long periods, as a number of black reporters did while covering the Soweto Uprisings in June 1976 and in 1984.
e. Further, journalists were subject to prosecution under sweeping laws such as the Official Secrets Act, Terrorism Act, Prison Act, Defense and Police Acts. This were particularly onerous to the press because reporters must in effect get Ministerial permission to publish any story in these important areas (Mathew, 1981)Much of the laws restricting the press and journalists were related to the vas legal and bureaucratic structures that maintained the Apartheid regime.
Understanding press controls in Apartheid South Africa required an understanding of the political system by which the country was governed. Legislative power was, until 1984, vested in a central parliament consisting of a lower house (House of Assembly), the President's Council and the State President. (In 1981, the Upper House [Senate], was replaced by the President's Council.)
Political power was concentrated in the House of Assembly made up of 165 White members, elected by White voters only in single member constituency. The State President was Constitutional ceremonial figure-head with powers similar to the Queen of England or the Governor general.
In the general elections of 1981, the National Party registered its ninth successive victory, scoring the biggest electoral margin since 1910. The party was returned to power with a majority of 97 seats, winning 131 of the Assembly's 165 directly elected seats. On September 9 1983, the Nationalist, with Botha at the Helm, pushed through parliament a new constitutional structure that would dramatically reshape the Westminister parliamentary system. Under the system, segregated chambers were set for Coloreds and Indians, but Africans were left out.
By 1984, the African majority had not yet been represented in the Central Parliament and the Provincial Council which had limited legislative power over the four Provinces(Natal, Transvaal, Orange Free State and the Cape). This was due to the fat that by the 1970s, the state of White rule in South Africa was not democratic, but authoritarian. It could be aptly described as a "pigmentocracy'' in which all political power was vested in the White oligarchy, which was controlled by an Afrikaner elite. This condition remains to this day in some form or another.
The liberal Press was reduced to insecurity and near impotence. It did not have the power to attack Apartheid contradiction. The English dailies were impeded from discovering and reporting critically on Constitutional reforms. The direction of laws over the past forty-plus years had ensured that, to the extent South Africa remains a democracy,it would be a progressively less accountable one. Mathews noted: "When absolute power is versed in the political authorities, a carping press seeks to present fundamental alternatives. Its role becomes subversive in the minds of men who are not accustomed to having their judgement qualified or seriously called into question by others.
The press tends to focus on the moral shortcomings of government policy and actions. It is a kind of moral mirror in which the government sees its own image and the sight was not a frequently pretty one. This explains the irrational outbursts against the newspapers. They produce a discomfort of conscience which is irrationally countered by transforming the press into a traitorous enemy ranking with, if not, beyond the Communist, the ANC, etc. (Mathew, 1981) This is precisely what is happening with the ANC and its coalition partners in its relationship with print media and various other media organs.
Elaine Potter had earlier observed that: "In the Nationalist government's campaign against the independent press, the government had two primary objectives: First, it sought to safeguard its political principles; and second, to ensure its ideology was not merely the policy of a political party which chanced to be in office, but a fundamental 'truth' against which only the press was blasphemous. The importance of this for the press was the growing tendency to identify all opposition to Apartheid with subversion and criticism of it defender with treason.
Thus, in seeking to secure itself in office and to eliminate all serious opposition to its Apartheid ideology, the Nationalist government arrogated to itself very extensive powers. There can be little argument that the government had provided itself with machinery to limit freedom of its institutional opponents(Potter, 1975) The ANC is beginning the baby-steps of arrogating power to itself by proposing the Protection of information Act and have a media tribunal answerable to the Parliament.
The multitude of wide-ranging laws enacted over the past fifty something years, created very immediate and practical problems for reporters and editors attempting to gather and publish news.These laws imposed a sense of self-censorship on the part of the press. Below a review a short summation of the laws that controlled and created an Apartheid Media are Environment are discussed(both Print and Electronic):
1. The Internal Security Act
Enacted in 1950 as the Suppression of Communism Act, this Act made it an offense to advocate, advice, defend, or encourage the achievement of any objective of communism. The Act provided that any newspaper deemed to be 'furthering' the objectives of Communism can be banned. This Act made it an offense to publish anything said or written on any person banned under the Act.
2. Sabotage Act
This Act was dealt with under the General Law Amendment Act of 1962 which required that care be taken to ensure that news reports, articles, or stories could not be construed as incitement, instigation, or aid to endanger, among other things, the maintenance of law and order. Under this law, journalists could be detained incommunicado for up to 180 days or indefinitely. Habeas corpus was specifically rendered impossible. There was also provision for a 14 day detention, renewable indefinitely, for 'interrogation'. Under this provision, the police had to place an affidavit before a judge to justify any detention. The detainee was not allowed or entitled to know the allegations presented to the judge by the police. Again, habeas corpus was excluded.
3. Terrorism Act
This Act regarded terrorism as any action which would endanger the maintenance of law and order; causing general disturbance; furthering any political aims (including social or economic changes) by forcible means or with the aid of any foreign government or body causing feelings of hostility between Whites and Backs; promoting the achievement of any objective by intimidation; prejudicing the operation of industry and commerce.
In this instance, the state had to show that the accused intended to endanger law and order. Thus the onus shifted to the accused to prove that he or she did not have that intention. A finding of guilty under the Terrorism Act meant a compulsory minimum of five years imprisonment; the maximum penalty was death. The impact of this statute was immediately apparent. Letters to the editor, advertisement, political columns, editorials, and news stories containing matter which might be construed as conspiring, procuring to overthrow the state, were prohibited. This law intended to bolster the Apartheid regime, and also posed great dangers to journalists merely trying to report what was happening.
4. Unlawful Organization Act
This Act was enacted in 1960, and it was used to ban the AC and PAC. This Act proscribed newspapers from publishing ANC and PAC views abroad, or their underground material. Related to this legislation was the Affected Organization Act of 1974 which made it illegal or an offense to canvass foreign money for or on behalf of declared to be banned. Newspaper kept lists of such organizations as protection from harassment by the state.
5. Riotous Assemblies Act
This 1956 Act dealt with the area of 'promoting hostility' between races as the Bantu Administration Act of 1927 had made it an offense for anyone to promote hostility between blacks and whites. Secondly, if a person was prohibited from attending a meeting, nothing he or he said wrote, whether it was in the present, past or future, could be reported. Thirdly, a newspaper could be banned it in the government opinion, any cartoon, picture, article or advertisement was deemed to endanger race relations. Fourthly, it was an offense to publish anything that could have the consequences of inciting others to violence.
6. Official Secrets Act
This Act proscribed the communication of anything relating to munitions of war or any purpose prejudicial to the safety or interest of the Republic of South Africa. Penalties were severe — up to fifteen years imprisonment. In practice, it served to place severe restrictions on reporting anything to do with security. This was put into effect in conjunction with the Defense Act of 1957, which restricted reportage of military matters, including reprinting reports appearing in foreign newspapers. Newspapers were not allowed to publish stories which 'alarm or depress' the public.
7. Prison Act of 1959 and 1965
The key section of this law affecting the press, prohibited publication of any false information about the experiences in prison of any prisoner or ex-prisoner or administration of any prison without taking reasonable steps to verify such information. The burden of proving that such steps were taken, were on the accused. What constituted reasonable steps was not clearly spelled-out. The reporter was expected to first very everything he or she wanted to publish, first with the prison department, and could only publish if the prisons department confirmed the story.
8. Police Amendment Act
The most oppressive was the second Police Amendment Act of 1979, which made it an offense to publish 'any untrue' matter about the police 'without having reasonable ground for believing that the statement was true.' The onus of proof was on the newspaper and the maximum penalty was R10,000.00($1,500) fine or up to five years imprisonment. This Act spawned distrust because it gave immunity to the police from the press and public scrutiny. The Prisons Act affected a relatively small community, but the Police Amendment Act affected very much larger proportion of the population.
9. Advocate General Act
This 1979 law created the office of the Advocate General. Under this law, no person may, without permission of the Advocate General, disclose to any other person (journalists included) the content of any document in the possession of the Advocate General. The Act did not interfere with the traditional freedom of parliamentary debate. However, in practice, government members of parliament may, when confronted with alleged corruption, merely referred the accuser to the Advocate General; this, in effect, replaced the opposition's role as the watchdog over corruption with investigation by the Advocate General.
10. Protection of Information Act
In June 1982, parliament passed the Protection of Information Act which provided for several wide restrictions on the public's right to know. It provided jail sentences of up to ten years for the unauthorized disclosure of information relating 'security matters or the prevention or combating of terrorism'. The onus was on the editor to prove that any facts he published could not be construed as prejudicial to state interests.
11. National Key Points Act
The National Key Points Act was a 1980 law permitting the government to designate certain crisis areas, such as the scene of the terrorist bombing, as off limits for journalists. This bill was keeping within the present legislative policy of suppressing information about hostile acts directed against the state and strategic installation. The intent of the Act was to subject news of an act to sabotage at any 'key' installations (such as the Sasol Coal and gasification project) for approval by the military authority before publication.
12. Petroleum Products Amendment Act
This 1978 Act was another law restricting press coverage. Journalists faced fines of up to R20,000($2,800) and seven years imprisonment for publishing without Ministerial permission, information about the source, manufacture, or storage of any petroleum produced or acquired by South Africa. Similar restriction concerning the stockpiling of strategic commodities were imposed under the National Supplies Procurement Amendment Act of 1979. This Act empowered rather than obscure government officials, The Minister of Industries, Commerce and Consumer Affairs, that whenever they deemed it expedient or necessary, publish a notice in the Government Gazette, prohibiting the disclosure of any information regarding any goods or services.
13. The Atomic Energy Act of 1973
This Act imposed severe penalties for unauthorized publication of information about uranium or thorium, nuclear research, and many activities of the Atomic Energy Board by the press.
14. The Hazardous Substance Act of 1973
This statute made it an offense for anyone, journalists included, to refuse to give information about such material to an inspector who demanded the information or explanation. Broadly speaking, a hazardous substance is one which had toxic, corrosive, radioactive or flammable propertied, or is an electric product.
15. The Radio Act of 1952
This Act made it an offense to intercept and publish radio communication which a person was not authorized to received. News reporters were not allowed to monitor the ambulance, police, the fire department, or army signals to pick up tips.
In short, all the above stated laws fell into three categories:
First, were laws that curtailed individual freedoms in such a manner as to harm press freedom as well. The Internal Security Act provided for the 'banning' of individuals, and preventing them from writing or being quoted by the press. The Unlawful organizations Act made it an offense to publish anything that was construed as 'furthering' the aims of proscribed organizations such as the ANC, PAC, etc., (this law was later scrapped).
Laws of the second type forbid publication of certain information without permission, on topics such as atomic energy and oil supplies. Reporting on the South African Defense Force was drastically limited by the Defense Act. In 1975, this law was used to keep South Africans from knowing the army's full scale war in Angola. The publications Act empowered a government agency to ban 'undesirable' material. Undesirable material was defined quite broadly, and included matter considered prejudicial to the safety of the state, or the general welfare of the society
The third category of laws included those that do not ban sensitive topics outright, but instead, created legal hazards for publishers who might choose to cover them. For example, the Prisons Act made impossible and an offense to publish false information about prisons without taking 'reasonable' steps to ensure it's accuracy. A similar law governed reporting on may areas of activity such as police, defense, prisons, official secrets, key points, oil supply, nuclear energy, the quoting of banned persons, or promoting the aims of banned organizations, or publishing on prisons and prisoners(Stuart, 1982)
From the above laws, the government erected a more rigid mechanism of control. Despite these laws, the South Africa press was able to exploit a wide margin to publish news and comments that were critical of the government. The public had the English press as an alternative to propaganda of the state controlled television, radio and film (Tomaselli R. and Tomaselli K., 1987)
On July 20, President Botha declared the firs State of Emergency. It authorized the police to close off areas in the Townships, and to block the publication of news or comments concerning the State of Emergency or its enforcement. The State of Emergency also barred publishing names of detainees without authorization. These emergency powers buttressed the already existing draconian legislation through enabling the security forces to operate under conditions resembling martial law in thirty-six affected areas. But the State of Emergency did not crush popular insurgency. Ominously, in the firs month after its declaration, the number of deaths attributed to political violence tripled(New York Times, 1985).
In August 1985, the bloodiest moth during the State of Emergency, more than 160 people were killed in politically related violence. By November 2, 1985, Botha clamped down on the media. He decreed that print reporters in unrest areas first seek police permission from the police. He forbade all camera crews, photographers, and radio reporters in the areas covered by the State of Emergency(Christian Science Monitor, 1985) - Also, read my Hub on: "Apartheid Genocide on Children: The Killing of African South African Kids from 1985 to beyond Y2K", and visit the picture gallery of the Hub to see what Botha was trying to avoid to be captured what they were doing in the Townships. In the Comment Section of the Hub I wrote: "Cry the Beloved Peoples: An In-Depth View of How the Apartheidizers Blame the Victims in Contemporary South Africa."
A comment made by "Ike" in the comment box of this Hub has posted links of the whole Apartheid saga and pictures which were not those that were eliminated nor shredded by the Apartheid regime on its ways, needs to be viewed to comprehend fully what apartheid and its minions were up to.
The government blamed the media for being part of the violence syndrome; and claimed that the presence of reporters contributed to the unrest. But the unrest did not subside in the following months: the tally of deaths related to political violence remained high up to mid-December 1986. The government's motives for imposing these restrictions had less to do with 'curtailing bloodshed, but more to do with politics in South Africa, and getting the story off the television screens domestically and internationally'(Sperling and McKenzie, 1990)
In an address to parliament, Botha claimed that from September 1984 to April 1986, an estimated '508 people, mostly blacks, were brutally murdered by radical blacks'. In addition, he affirmed that, 'no less than 1,417 black owned businesses, 4,435 private homes [including 814 homes of black policemen], 28 churches, 54 community centers, several hundred schools and a number of clinics that served the black community were either damaged or badly destroyed or gutted by petrol bombs or other forms of arson'. (New York Times, 1986; Cowel, A., 1985; Rule, 1985).
To curb the violence and ban the cameras on the scene, Botha extended the prohibition of covering unrests throughout the country. Journalists could not quote or publish any statement deemed 'subversive,' a term that was broadly defined and included anything likely to have the effect of promoting civil disobedience, or any objective of an unlawful organization.
Until December 1986, the focus of press restrictions had been to black out news about the political violence and what the security forces were doing in the townships. On December 12, 1986, it became a violation of the emergency restrictions to report on boycotts, 'restricted gatherings', unlawful political structures such as the 'peoples courts', and circumstances of refugees (Weekly Mail, 1986).
The December decree also broadened the definition of banned 'subversive' statements to cover basically anything deemed to encourage resistance to authorities. And, in a step towards prior censorship, the government advised news organ to telex articles to a newly created censor's office if, in the editors judgement, their content might come under the emergency rule restrictions (James, 1987)
In January 1987, the commissioner of Police banned ads and reports it perceived to further the cause of 'unlawful organizations'. In August 1987, other emergency regulations were instituted. This phase encompassed 'promoting of fanning the breaking own of public order' and fomenting feelings of hatred... towards local authorities or security forces' (Sechaba, 1986; Guardian, 1984; ANC News Briefings, 1984)
By 1988, The South African Apartheid regime had placed several key emergency press restrictions
a. No reporters, print or broadcast, local or foreign was to be within sight of the unrest;
b. no unauthorized news or comment concerning the unrest or security forces actions;
c. no making of quoting 'subversive' statements;
d. no systematic or repeated publication of 'revolution-supportive' material;
e. no unauthorized reports on conditions of detainees, or on various forms of non-violent protest activities, and on unlawful local political structures, such as the 'peoples courts.'
Any journalists who violated these emergency decrees were punished by a fine of up to R20,000 or ten years in prison. In some cases, both. These press restrictions were aimed at thwarting one of the essential components of a democracy: the free flow of information and ideas that enabled citizen to make informed political decisions. The government sought to achieve this objective in three ways.
Firstly, these restrictions aimed to calm the White minority by keeping them ignorant o the events in the Townships. Botha's government was politically dependent on appearing firmly in control while pursing is gradual and very limited program of reform.
Secondly, the government wanted to deprive the foreign audiences of information on what was happening in south Africa in order to diffuse international political and economic pressure.
Thirdly, by hampering the abilities of the press to cover most activities of the anti-Apartheid movements, Botha was able to distort political life by denying access to the media of the country''s main political forces.
By purposely making the restrictions vague, and by enforcing them unevenly, the state managed to keep journalists off-balance. Most editors had stopped trying to clear their copy before publication, but erred on the side of caution when running the story, thereby acquiescing de facto in the strictures. Eventually, those restrictions containing loopholes and inviting circumvention, were usually closed-off by the publication of amended executive orders under the State of Emergency.
Finally, it was fact and information more than opinion that were restricted by these regulations. What these media restrictions limited most was the ability of South Africans and the World to know the full story of events that lay behind the editorials of South Africa as dictated by the Apartheid State legislature, capital and military interests, through coercion of Africans. Those who trumpet the virtues of Apartheid and its shenanigans, are mere adding insult to injury on the African people who are still suffering the 'after-effects' of Apartheid.
The whole new thing of Blaming the Victims of Apartheid on the Internet, is another one of the many abuses that Africans have to suffer, and the world, through the World Wide Web, have to listen to. Articles like this one,are written with the History of Apartheid in mind, and the new media under the ANC-led government,and trying very hard to show the differences and progress that has been made thus far, and yet seems to be plodding down the same road as Apartheid's muzzling of the media.
Post Apartheid Democratic Free Media
Between 1950 and 1990, more than 100 laws affecting the media were passed by the apartheid regime. It is important to note that in 2004, South Africa was marking ten years of operation in a free legal environment of democracy. This has had a positive impact on the media, and the media, in a way, has helped to consolidate tis new democracy. But this relationship, that of the press, vis-a-vis government is a very mixed one. The quality of journalism under this new ANC-led government has begun to change. At this juncture,it is important to look at the past 16 years of journalism in south Africa, and what is happening today between the ANC-led Government and the media.
To put this history in perspective, the KAF Democracy Report of 2005, stated that: "South Africa has an adult population (people aged 15 and over) of 26 million about 12 to 13 million had less than a full general education; about 7.4 to 8.5 million have less than grade 7(often used as an education-level indicator of sustainable, functional literacy) and about 2.9 to 4.2 million people are estimated to have had no schooling at all, and are presumably functionally illiterate. These are the leftovers of and affects of the Apartheid rule which created poor educational infrastructures, especially in the rural areas. The Present government has begun to address the backlog by providing adult basic education and training(ABET) and compulsory schooling for all children from grades 1 to 10."
This is important , but if one were to look much more deeper into the newly created Educational system, there seems to be more failures and in schools and chaos as it regards the curriculum. With education being overhauled, we look at the short history of the Media and communication organs in the era of the ANC-led government.
The History of the Media in the Age of ANC-led Democracy
The New Media Structure under Apartheid:
The KAF Democracy Repot of 2005 further informs us thus: South Africa enjoys a great rage of local and national independent media compared to other countries on the continent. The National Broadcaster, The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) owns 21 radio station of which several broadcast in the country's 12 official languages. SABC also own four TV Stations - SABC 123 and SABC Africa, which beams out via satellite company DSTV into the rest of Africa. The independent Communications regulator, ICASA, recently gave SABC two regional television stations that will broadcast local content exclusively in the country's indigenous languages.
There are 80 functional community radio stations operating in the country's 9 provinces; a recently published White Paper has been published which proposes the framework for the establishment of community television in the country. There are 14 private commercial radio operators that broadcast in a range of formats from adult contemporary music, to jazz, classical music, youth and current affairs. The footprint stretches across major metropolitan areas and provinces.
However, no private commercial radio station have been licensed to compete wit the public broadcaster monopoly. Recently, during the past two years leading to 2010, SABC has been embroiled in corruption wherein about R10-billion has been lost and the ANC has decided to insert their Man at the helm of the organization, and this has had some form of chilling affect and the giant monopoly is still facing an uncertain direction in its programing and management, that is, as of the writing of this Hub.
KAF Report continues: "E-TV is the country's only licensed free to air alternative programming to that of SABC. MNET is the country's only terrestrial pay-TV channel, while DSTV is a subscription TV Bouquet, broadcast via satellite to South Africa and several African Countries. Both MNET and DSTV are owned by Media Group Naspers, which is also a major publisher of South Africa Newspapers and Magazines."
This entity will also be given a brief historical look so as to understand its role in contemporary Media environment or ecology within South Africa and elsewhere. Nearly 20 daily independent newspapers titles are published in the country's commercial hubs and provinces. Only a handful of daily and weekly titles are circulated throughout the country , and this is due to the high costs of distribution. In 2001, an estimated 147 free sheets of 'knock and drop' papers became affiliated the now defunct Community Press Association.
These knock and drop titles, have a majority of them now owned by the media group, Caxton, are now being distributed freely to urban dwellers, generally those in affluent neighborhoods and districts. Newspapers are still a source of information for some urban dwellers that the buying and reading of newspaper is still one that is deeply entrenched in the urban readers.
Radio is till a very popular medium amongst South Africans, and it provides news, weather, musical programs, talk shows and religious services and music to a very part of the South African population. The KAF Democracy Report informs us that: "Radio is dominated by the three largest players, Kagiso, Primedia and African Media Enterprises, and newspapers by the print giants, Naspers, Johncom, Independent News and Caxton.
"These companies have diversified their interests into other media areas as well, including outdoor advertising, cinema and film distribution, advertising sales, Internet Publishing and magazines. Several are are looking northwards and intend to expand their empires into the rest of Africa."
The KAF Report continues to add that: "No political party own its own newspaper, except of the Ilanga, a newspaper printed in Zulu in KwaZulu Natal the Mandla Matla Trust, it is owned by the Inkatha Freedom Party. Although it is claimed that the owners do not interfere in the title's editorial independence, but the paper's allegiances are sometimes question due to its political Affiliation " Community ownership of newspapers in South Africa, along with TV and Radio, are still out of the question.
In essence, the structure of the media as it has been crafted under Apartheid, transitioned as it was into the new Age of the ANC-led government for the past 16 years.
When it comes to the Internet, the KAF Democracy Report states: "Political parties have used the Internet as an inexpensive means of disseminating their opinions in the public domain, with the ANC's online newsletter, ANC Today, becoming primary reading material for any political journalists. There is no censorship for online newspapers, the majority of which are shovelware for their print counterparts.
"The South Africa Advertising Research Foundation's All Media Products Survey(AMPS) estimates that almost 28 million people tune in to radio(of this figure, community radio accounts for about 4.5 million listeners) Due to the high costs of access, however, the Internet remains an elite medium.
"Research company, Worldwide Worx estimates that approximately 3.5 million South Africans (about 7.5 per cent of the total population) have access to the internet. The cost of television sets and the limitations of signal distribution means nd access to electircity mean only 14.6 million South Africans have access to television.
"An audience media survey conducted by South African NGO Genderlinks to look at news and current affairs consumption patterns among men and women in South Africa showed that: 49 per cent of women and 40 per cent of men get their main news fix from television [very often: 4], 34 per cent of men and women regard radio as the primary news source [often: 3] and 21 per cent of men and 15 per cent of women use newspapers 9 [occasionally: 2]. The Internet, by contrast is almost never used." (Berger)
Also as distinct from the pre-Apartheid era, the 1990s saw the rise of the Internet as another mass medium. While access in South Africa remans limited only mainly to the middle class white community, this outlet — with its participative dimension — has meant another way in which different views can be expressed, debated and disseminated. The state has generally sought to improve access to the use of ICTs through the development of multi-purpose centers in Townships and rural areas.
There is no censorship of the Internet though the Interception and Monitoring Act does allow the government to snoop on people's Internet usage and email among other things. Low internet access (about 3.5 million) is a consequence of poor government planning and a telecommunications monopoly by Telkom that has seen South Africans reportedly pay the highest on average call cost in the world.
Over the decade, there has been a drastic change in the media freedom environment. Government and media have attempted to engage constructively with each other, especially at national level through the South African National Editors Forum. However, tensions between government and the Fourth Estate do persist. Since 2000, a number of positive legislative changes have occurred which strengthen the media. These include the establishment of the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) and the promulgation of a Freedom of Information Act.
In broadcasting, the publication of position papers on ownership and control of broadcasting services, local content quotas, regional and community television broadcasting, subscription broadcasting services and convergence legislation should strengthen and guide the sector and bolster South Africa's position as a world class broadcaster. Up to now, there was virtually no fear of repression, but there was trouble for the media looming in the immediate future: Media tribunal....
Hiding Bad Governance Behind Draconian Laws
South Africans, through the financing model at SABC, are inundated with cheap US programming and less indigenous talent, despite the local content quota. In the past few years, SABC wanted to separate itself into commercial and public service wings, with profits from government subsidizing SABC. This complex disentangling has been complicated by the fact that the public service wings will still carry advertising.
Overall, the impact of this funding model on democracy in the narrow sense is not necessarily negative. However, it means insufficient resources for programming in diverse languages, this could have repercussions on the language of empowerment and on the informational divide amongst citizens in South Africa. Another factor that endangers the credibility of journalism in South Africa has been the increasing commercialism of the media industry. Even SABC as a public broadcaster is substantially skewed in its contents due to this dynamic.
Part of this picture has also been an indiscriminate 'dumbing down' of content, and increase in sensationalism. But overall, the subsidized media — including SABC - are independent and critical towards the government, but to a point. Further, the democratic standing of the media has been undermined by numerous violations of the boundary between advertising and editorial or programming content. Further, to an individual, editors complain about how much they have to concentrate on the business side of the media, such as on sales or on attracting audiences as ends in themselves, at the expense of being able to focus on editorial content and its intrinsic value.
This situation in turn reflects the historical decline in the power of the editors — who nowadays report to a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or to a board. Editing content is now often subservient to commercial agendas, and democratic consideration come second . (KAF Democracy Report 2005) Some now feel that the new government, because of its dysfunctional role as a government, is now using the Media tribunal as a deflection from the malfunctioning of its state policies.
The state that the government is hiding its bad governance behind draconian laws akin to those of the Apartheid era. Joe Thloloe puts it this way: "The started in the early 1960s when the National Party government was threatening to regulate the media in the same way the ANC is doing now. To ward off that threat, the industry decided to create a media council."
Thloloe adds: "It is much of a political game than a real issue. There is no way of strengthening the Ombudsman as it is now functioning. The suggestions that are being thrown in the ANC Alliance at this point do not make sense. The jailing of journalists is absolute rubbish. Fining publications is a possibility, I don't think it will serve to improve the quality of journalism out.
"The sad thing is that if they go ahead, it will mean the taxpayers' money, as well as money from the newspapers, will be spent on lawyers fighting the matter right up to the Constitutional Court. I believe very firmly that the Constitutional Court will not uphold the statutory tribunal for the simple reason that it goes against the principles enshrined in the Constitution."
"The present government is not addressing issues of corruption, cronyism, nepotism and the tenderpreuners scandals that are putting it in a bad light both locally and internationally. This have made the poor Africans and other minorities in a tenuous position." John Porter on the M&G public comment boxes wrote: "The ANC have absolutely no bloody clue how to govern, or what government means, or how it works or what a democracy is."
To say something like 'we to have a right to express ourselves,' (as echoed by Mthembu when addressing the press in Johannesburg), is utterly farcical. This really beggars belief and shows the kind of stupidity we are dealing with since the ANC sees itself as a party, as state, as liberators, as the public — as running all aspects of South African civil society. This kind of arrogance is bordering on lunacy — clearly we see the delusional ANC for what it is. The ANC has lost the plot, and there is no hope as long as they are in power.
New Threat To Media Freedom
The Mail and Guardian reports that, "The Law Society of south Africa (LSSA) on Friday expressed concern about the draft Protection of Information Bill and the proposed Media Tribunal, saying they were 'unconstitutionally suspect'." Max Boqwana and Peter Horn said in a joint statement that the two measures threatened to undermine press freedom, which was a fundamental pillar of democracy. They said that the draft Bill and tribunal had the potential to erode transparency, accountability by public officials, and the public's right of access to information and media freedom.
They also saw the Bill as suffering several defects which rendered it Constitutionally suspect and which needed further consideration. The stated that it was so broad that it could potentially cover every aspect of a citizen's life. The thresholds for classification set out in the Bill were unacceptably low and would allow for information to be classified on the basis of harm that was hypothetical and speculative. For example, a document could be deemed as "classified" it "maybe harmful" to the "national interest". Mail and Guardian, 2010)
The Bill allowed classification of commercial information held by the state, including commercial information belonging to private companies. (Maybe this includes Naspers, whose information and connections to the world economy and media, and the ANC will be discussed bellow — my addition). Boqwana and Horn say that the Bill also did not provide for an independent oversight mechanism to review classification decisions.
It has thus left the final decisions in this regard in the hands of state officials who might well have an interest in continuing to conceal certain information. The Bill would further legislate a number of criminal offenses, without proposing any public interest indemnity or these criminal offenses. The result is that the offenses will inevitably censor the publication of matters of public interest by the media and others.
Whereas the LSSA recognizes the legitimate need for every government to take steps to protect information that is crucial for national security, such legislation should be narrowly tailored and should not be drafted in a manner that fails to take into account the important role played in a democracy by the media, and indeed every citizen who seeks to expose corruption, nepotism,hypocrisy and maladministration," Boqwana and Horn said.
The Mail and Guardian continues quoting Boqwana and Worn who went on to add that they accepted that the media had a duty to report fairly, objectively and responsively. This was so in view of the powerful position the media occupied in society, However, the LSSA was greatly concerned bout the suggestion that the media required external regulation.
They say that what appears to be envisaged is a government-appointed 'independent' tribunal which would serve as a forum for appealing decision made by the press ombudsman, and which would be accountable to parliament. The fact that the tribunal would be accountable to Parliament was cold comfort. Ultimately what this would amount to, was, government oversight over the media, which could not be countenanced in a democratic state.
Looking at the media today, one sees a self-targeting and self-selecting media of the wealthy classes with papers like the Sunday Times, The Argus and the Mail and Guardian. According the David J. Smith:
"They don't speak to ordinary people of this country. You and me may think of ourselves as everyday blokes, the man on the street, but we are not. We have the Internet, we have a street, we have a house and a car and all that.
"I am talking about the guy who walks the street, catches a taxi to work, gets his pay cheque in a manila envelope, has an ID book and not a passport. These are the people who can actually change governments in this country, these are the people who brought down the last government and they can bring down this government.
"But the only newspapers aimed at them are hokey tabloids like the Daily Sun and Die Son. Papers that think a story if a headless chicken possessed by demons is more interesting than a government possessed by demons.
"Even a paper like the Sowetan that does a fairly good job of straddling the middle class and the working class , spends most of its energy covering celebrity news and glitzy bling blah. If the media is going to actually make a dent and fight corruption, it needs to speak to JZ's voter base.
"The people who are NOT reading this blog post on their boss's dime. Tell them why our government is rubbish, talk to them about the corruption that runs through the halls of Parliament. Speaking to people like me and you is like backing the DA. A waste of time.
"If the media is going to actually make a dent and fight corruption, it needs to tell the people why our government is rubbish and what it is not doing and doing that which is right and wrong." The people are smart enough to sort out the information disseminated to them, along with their own personal experiences inserted,by them, in the mix and midst of their analysis of the news, or reportage."
This proposed Information Bill proposed by the ANC has proponents pointing out that this Bill is unconstitutional because freedom of the press is enshrined in the Constitution. They add that it is essential for any liberal democracy to have a free press and an independent one. They observe that it is against the Constitution for the ruling party to insulate itself into the organ of the state, and in the process distance themselves further away from their constituents. They thus cite:
A Case For African Media Consumers
Financial models also impact on the democratic role of the public broadcaster. The SABC draws most of its revenue from advertising; license fees just yields 13%. This is not only unpopular with commercial broadcasters, who resent amongst other things the power of the corporation to bulk market its outlets to advertisers. It has also attracted severe criticism from civil society, and even from the ANC, for what is seen as a commercial agenda that compromises public service programming — especially in regard to transmission in the minority languages of news presentation and programming, this doe to the country's 12 official tongues, and the people who speak this language.
This in a way creates a chasm of news dissemination, distribution and consumption of information (news , etc.) between the minority language speakers who are targeted by the press, and the majority 9 language speakers of the country. Some accuse the majority in their news dissemination, of incidents, true or false, that might happen(as in the case of Xenophobia) and other accusatory news or information, to sell papers, and misinform their minority consumers(A legacy of news presentation and reportage acquired during the Apartheid Era). Unathi, below, presents the African side of media dissemination, consumption and analysis as it pertain to the Africans in South Africa.
Unathi Qondile, after question the media's dissemination of Xenophobia stories that the press had been trying to spread post-World Cup, addresses the question of the media and its ignoring of Africa people and painting a picture that does not exist about them:
"It takes a sick soul to conjure up xenophobia rumors; it takes even a sicker media to spread such news without taking into account the foreseeable impact. I have long held the view that the media in South Africa has no bearing or relation to the majority of this country. It serves a minority and whenever it does attempt to serve the majority,it is to relay moral panic and instill fear for or against the actual majority(Africans-my addition). For example, there is this overriding perception that there is more crime in the suburbs and white people are targeted in the cities.
And as such, one will find that most crime reporting tends to lean towards Rolex gangs, drive-way shootings, etc. Yet, I can for a fact state that there is more crime in the rural areas and townships than there is in cities regardless of proportions or relativity theories. You just do not find those day-to-day stories in the media. They are insignificant. No 'public-worthy' [public- minorities]. So, why the particular fascination with xenophobic attacks? For as long as 1997, I have known foreign nationals to be not welcome in townships.
Terms such as 'makwerekwere' were even in Boom Shaka(and Brendas's my addition) songs in the 1990s discussing the matter of foreign nationals in black communities. But get this: "In 2000 or thereabout, a South African general dealer and bar owner I knew was hijacked, dragged in his store, robbed, tied up and burnt together with his store. In Centane, Ngqamakwe and surrounds black South Africa shop owners or farmers carry 9mm pistols under the 'bakkie' seats.
They tend to buy 'bakkies' that are similar in color - white or cream to avoid being easily targeted. "Amakhwenkwe aselalini abhokile" is what they say. By day the perpetrators are drugged out shy boys loitering the streets of townships. By night, none dare cross their path - ask the local men, who are shot dead by kids no older than 14 years, on weekends, in Butterworth and its surrounds - they are dead."
Unathi further adds: "Ask a few local bottle store owners how many times their patrons have been shot dead or told to lie down as teir bars and shops are looted in broad daylight. I know of one that's been looted more than ten times and the owner won't budge. Still there, in Msobomvu township. Ask a few houses how many times they've been robbed this year alone. Ask how many children and grandmothers have been raped. Ask many young men have been ripped apart for their internal organs. Ask. Ask. Ask. Ask,
"These are the stories of African South Africans, which are untold and largely irrelevant to the media's agenda. So, when foreign nationals enter these already ill communities, what do they expect? The matter is exacerbated by non-South African-ness. Your outsider status becomes a convenient excuse. And any form of ascending towards self sustenance, beyond the locals, in the midst of their poverty is what gets you targeted. It's not about where you come from; it's about what you have. The 'haves' versus the 'have-nots.
"And various senseless indiscriminate crimes driven by a sense of moral degeneration and decay also occur[From the days of Grand apartheid, to now-my addition]. This is the daily hustle of the Township and rural dwellers regardless of media categorizations of victims. These are the realities of those communities. Some have less, some have more. So, I ask again, why is the media particularly engrossed with reporting on xenophobia as just plainly xenophobic in it's manifestations?"
Unathi concludes: "I have also come to the conclusion that recent reports on the looming xenophobic attacks after the World Cup are dangerously misguided. It is understandable that xenophobic behavior is ongoing in townships. It is also understandable, in my terms, that the media stokes them. The concept of a media is something that was let behind when democracy was snatched in 1994. It was overlooked and left largely untransformed in 'ownership' and 'agenda setting'. Therein lies the problem.
"People who run these 'things' do not understand how black rural South Africans consume the media. If they do, they have a wry way of showing it. I have, through research in days bygone, naturalistically as possible observed how in our culture,which is rich in narrative and story-telling techniques, nothing is as awe-inspiring as 'Indaba'(News) or Amabali. The Daily Sun's sales prove this over and over. Let alone the word-of-mouth added coverage Public service broadcaster news prove this over and over.
"In the process of consumption there is a lot of discussion, story telling and over-analyzing. Go sit in a train and you'll be amazed at the intense manner in which media subjects are handled in vernacular(local indigenous languages) I just don't know how African journalists cannot articulate this? Are they trapped and contained in rigid Western inverted-triangle ways of telling"
Unathi finally clarifies: "There is a different pattern of transmission and of understanding catchy headlines for such markets. 'Here comes Xenophobia!' — literally means, it's coming and we must therefore unite and align ourselves with whomever is pursuing it. New literally set their agenda. So when newspapers start the liturgy of 'Xenophobia Attacks After World Cup,' I am quite sure many of the prospective perpetrators weren't aware of such, but took it as a fact. Yes, there was always xenophobic tension and post 2008 nostalgia."
Such headlines, thereafter, get discussed in trains,emotions run high and Bobs-your-uncle you have hate. Yes, I blame the media. The media sees this agenda based on their expectations of post World Cup drama(strikes, violence, etc.), because there was a guiding mentality of lets-behave-until-the-end-of-the-world-cup, which was sadly set by the government in its pronunciations against BRT and Taxi strikes, you name them. It is sad that after the unifying experience of the World Cup, these people now have to sit in trains discussing xenophobic headlines.
"'Shit stirrers,' at best, is how one can define this day's media. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying ours is a dumb consumer market. But I am saying ours is a culture that is initiated to destructive, cynical and Western notions of relaying news in vapid angles. Such that in isi-Xhosa, one could go as far as say, at first glance, "indima yeMedia kukuthelekisa* — sadly value will be lost in translation, so I won't translate, it's along the lines of the 'media fuels fight'*. All I am saying is that "Xenophobia attacks" headlines give people a vocabulary and psyches them up. Careful, the power of a world is a culture whose words are littered with ambiguity."
Unathi in the end observes: "The media, in its powerful role, is operating on an oblivious plane in this country and is not mindful to the difference and ways of relaying news. As such, you will, without fail, constantly find politicians of the 'new dispensation' blaming the media, but unable to pin-point the exact nature of the problem. Well, let me tell you that the problem lies in the wording, tone and underlying suppressed ideologies[and 'memes'-my addition]. The facts might be correct, but the toe and wording is what breaks it down.
African culture of uBuntu does not espouse the subtle unpatriotic vitriolic ways of address. This might all seem glaringly anti-textbook journalism, it is. The media, its codes of conduct and general guidelines are not cast in stone and as such we need to work on ways that are all-inclusive and not necessarily civic in its duty, but striving towards the restoration of unity in south Africa. We are a healing nation, sensitive to long-standing shrewd media ways of the West.
For as long as we have demons of typing R2.00 per word articles/scripts, we are still far from the ideals of an African media renaissance (Unathi Kondile, Media Flaws, July 2010) Unathi is in total agreement with David Smith. The media needs to change its ways of news gathering and information dissemination to the majority poor, without any prejudices and biases. In so doing, the media will be well on the way towards helping South Africans more informed and equipped better to deal with their present situation
The Real Beginning: Media Tribunal
It is a bit clearer now that the history of the press and contemporary media organs that not much not changed. The new government is in cahoots, also in service of the past Apartheid media in using the African majorities through suggestive 'memes', and follow up that one two punch by blaming the victims they lured and manipulated using commercial media techniques. Helga Jansen says that we did not guard our democratic freedom jealously and vigorously. She goes on to say that:
"Beyond the activism of media workers and NGOS, all of these entities allowed political interests and political actors do it for us by letting them stand guards at the gates of a metaphorical constitutional hill, and watch out for those who will trample the hallowed grounds of democracy." Then she plunges in to this pitch: "Throughout this has been an 'independent' media, free to take up the baton for our responsibility towards our democracy. We allowed the media to become the "unofficial" opposition. The "serious journalism" of the 'trashy tabloids' and the "acres of middle-class whingeing" confirmed our worst nightmares, a black ruling party would degenerate into a banana kleptocracy.
"The trashy tabloids dulled any reporting or portrayal of working-class political opposition, while the English-speaking dailies entrenched racial fears of 'the other' through horror stories of black criminals violating innocent middle-class victims. Service-delivery failures, HIV/Aids denialism, the rape trials, and corruption tribulations of Zuma and other in the black government, and the imminent failure of the First African World Cup - these 'true' stories sold the newspapers." They also enticed the new government into assessing its increased chances of clamping-down on the media.
Helga Jansen talks about the interplay between the Government and the Commercial Media Moguls as follows: "The anti-government trend is not new in South African mainstream print media. This does not mean that genuine media investigative journalism into the irregular use of state resources is not needed, and necessary. But what passes as good journalism? Are our news rooms a healthy balance between journalistic experience and youthful enthusiasm or is it just youthful arrogance passing itself off as political journalism? However, as Jeremy Cronin calls it" '
"The oppositionist inclination is the media's view that it is the watchdog over those in power [usually those in political rather than economic power].' As deep disappointment and growing anger towards the African National Congress, seethed and settled, so the "independent" media fed this anger. And as they uncovered one 'truth' after another about the ANC, in the name of media freedom, they also sold newspapers by the ton loads, and helped shape our political and national identities, and perhaps also reinforced our prejudices, our Afro-pessimism. We brought this threat of the media on ourselves."
The core issue revolves around whether media people should behave as journalists first and foremost, and political beings second, and indeed what kind of journalists they should be — watchdogs or development journalists. Most media, today, out of their own volition, support the government, though there are a number of exceptions to the support. For example, reportage on government policy on HIV-Aids and Zimbabwe had been almost universally negative. I contrast, there has been almost no critical debate about the government's orientation on economics. Instead, criticism of the latter has been about the implementation of policy rather than its intrinsic nature.
This is not to say that journalists' limited coverage of this issue means that they have become ideologues for the government as the commercial press has been like throughout apartheid rule. Coverage of issues such as government race-related redress policies is often robust. There are regular instigations into corruption or cronyism. There is thus in general no love lost between the media and the government, and there remains enormous suspicion amongst the ruling party politicians about the motives of what is still often seen as a "white-orientated and controlled media". This is what Mthembu talked about below, the overwhelming white ownership of print media which needs to be discussed as they will be talking about the media tribunal in September.
However, there are four areas of social life and identity that color journalism was not always conducive to democracy These are race, nationality, class and gender. In one sense the media can be said to be part of a broad thrust of nation building, in its effort to help construct a sense of a democratic and unitary South Africanism, notwithstanding, rifts and conflicts framed in racial terms. Three specific issues of social prejudice, however, continue to challenge the media's role in mediating, if not exacerbating(as discussed in Unathi's article above), social tensions.
The first is xenophobia against foreigners from other African countries, using language that tarnishes entire nations in the process. The second challenge is that a major continuing factor underpinning racial division in the society is economic inequality, and there the media have done little to help address the stark disparities in income between racial groups. While the small black middle class is indeed reported upon, poor people remain almost entirely out of the media loop[one asp recalls Unathi's article above at this point].
A third challenge is that despite the county's progress in advancing the position of women in all areas of life, women are still grossly under-represented in coverage. A study in 2002 revealed that only 19 per cent of news sources were women, and even worse, that black women (who constitute 45 per cent of the population) made up only 7 per cent of the total. Black men jade up 27 per cent f news sources and white men 32 per cent. Although there is some improvement, there's still a long way to go ensuring that the media do a better job in representing both quantitatively and qualitatively the social demographics of race, language, nationality, class and gender.
The ANC Throws Down The Gauntlet
Ineptitude; Inconsistencies; Inexperience
According to Guy Berger: "When the ANC looks at the media, it sees a reality that's quite different to fine-sounding rhetoric about the role of the press. Likewise, when the media looks at the tribunal proposal, it is similarly skeptical about whether the ANC's motives are honorable. At the same time, both perspectives also have telling blind spots:
* The media's critique of the ANC discussion document has, quite symptomatically, largely ignored the proposal around ownership change. (Which the ANC is now raising now of late)
* Meanwhile, the ANC document has absolutely nothing to say about the political and economic crises which have wrecked the SABC for the past three years.
In his article, "Taking the ANC Media Tribunal at Face Value" Guy Berger goes on to say: "
To start with, the discussion document says that the ANC respects media freedom. It calls for journalism that reflects on "how our souls are being poisoned by the spirit of conspicuous consumption in a socio-economic formation that encourages greed(..eh! The pot calling the kettle black! Uh-oh! — my addition) One would have therefore thought that the exposes of high living would have been welcomed. Instead, however, the document motivates for the tribunal by proposing that "many who find themselves 'in the news' are unhappy about the way their story has been presented or the way journalists have obtained information."
It adds that "people need recourse when media freedom trampled their rights to dignity and privacy". (So, does "people", in this case maybe means ANC executives or what?"- my insertion) Berger continues to press on ahead: "Yet, supposing the document's authors genuinely see the tribunal as being in the broad public (rather than the narrow party("allegiance?"-interests, what is their reasoning? Here are the key assumptions embedded in their case:
* Unlike broadcasting, print media remains untransformed in terms of ownership and hence the newspapers retain an ideological outlook contrary to the ANC's within the "battle of ideas".
* This situation,combined with commercialization and ethical corruption, produce negative journalism. According to the discussion document, to date any journalist who "dared to acknowledge progress in the service delivery and government performance was condemned by peers as a lapdog".
*The masses do not have access to, or redress from, newspapers, hence diversity is limited. In particular, the existing self-regulation system is simply a self-serving gimmick by the press. My italics - Refer back to the citation I offered of Unathi Kondile)
* Contrary to all this, newspapers should be "instruments of transformation" in building a better South Africa.
* The ANC is a united political force guided by progressive values, enjoys a popular mandate and can be trusted to set things right. (?!) (Guy Berger, Mail & Guardian, 2010)
Helga Jansen quips: "The ANC too, however, played its part in creating the kind of media we have. We watched as our economy swayed from serving the people to serving "the ANC's embrace of neoliberal policies in the late 1990s — the ANC pursued a largely market-led approach to media transformation". The foreign and largely