Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Press Freedom Day
May 3 is World Press Freedom Day, and the South African National Editors' Forum (SANEF) is launching a public education campaign around the benefits of a free press. This could not come at a better time for South Africa, as various events in the past years or two (read Snuki Zikalala at the SABC, attacks on the press in the Zuma trial etc) have heralded worrying signs for local press freedom. Africa has a deplorable record for freedom of the press, and free speech in general, and we have one of the worst proponents on our northern border. I always worry that populist leaders, like Zuma, find this an easy weakness to exploit, much to the detriment of our democratic practices.

Press freedom is an inalienable cornerstone of a functioning democracy, and it is vital in on the African continent where corruption, mismanagement and centralised decision-making abound. I have long lamented the lack of quality investigative journalism in South Africa, but perhaps this SANEF initiative will bring more demands from the public at large, and lead to a more efficient, more productive, and bolder press.