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INDABA Newsletter | January 2011

Networking forum


From left - Doreen Gough (manager: media affairs, Unisa and exco member), Jos Charle (deputy chairperson of the press club), Phumudzo Ratshinanga (Communication Students Association) and Prof Mandla Makhanya (Principal and Vice-Chancellor: Unisa).
Thank you to Unisa for hosting the club's networking forum on 27 January, at the university's newly opened entrance building, Kgorong. Prof Mandla Makhanya, the newly appointed Principal and Vice-Chancellor, in addressing guests said the media was a very important stakeholder of the university. Unisa had a policy of always being open and accessible to the media.

As always, Unisa's hospitality was great and it was a most informative evening. Thanks also to Unisa for the gifts that each member received.

February's networking forum will be hosted at 18:00 for 18:30 on the 24th, by the Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority at their offices in Centurion. Members will receive exact details and a map on e-mail. Please diarise it!

SABC - time has come to appoint a commission of enquiry

The National Press Club has called on government to appoint a fully-fledged commission of enquiry to investigate the SABC as a matter of urgency.

This follows a scalding South Gauteng High Court judgment recently, in which former SABC News head, Snuki Zikalala has been accused of manipulating coverage with a political motive and of effective pre-censorship.

The ruling found that the embattled public broadcaster violated its license conditions through Zikalala’s acts and was also guilty of “a dishonest attempt to cover up the situation.” The judgment also accuses Zikalala of “unlawfully manipulating” news items on Zimbabwe’s 2005 elections and blacklisting certain commentators to silence critical voices.

The press club says the rot has plagued the SABC for far too long and it believes the latest allegations are only the tip of the iceberg.

Press club chairman Yusuf Abramjee, said the judgment was of “serious concern” and needed to be fully investigated. “We applaud the court for ordering the Independent Communication Authority of South Africa to reopen its investigation into alleged political interference at the SABC, after an appeal by the Freedom of Expression Institute, but we need more. We now need government to appoint a Commission of Enquiry.

“The South African public needs answers and rightfully demands an honest, clean and transparent public broadcaster. The situation at the SABC remains a concern as the ructions at Auckland Park continue. The good, bad and ugly – both past and present – needs to be laid on the table once and for all.”

Abramjee said if this does not happen, the public broadcaster would continue to be bogged down by ongoing allegations and denials.

He said current and former employees need to come forward and play open cards, adding that it was also necessary for Zikalala to come out publicly and respond to the court’s decision.

“We expect him to be honest and open. While there are many hard working, committed and efficient SABC staffers, the corporation must get rid of the rotten apples once and for all, as it is vital for the public broadcaster to cover news accurately, fairly, balanced and objectively. We need media freedom and transparency.

Abramjee said the SABC was an important platform with powerful mediums, but it continues to deteriorate at the expense of the South African public. “They need credible editors and journalists and not people with political baggage. It’s time for a total cleanup.”

The exco held lekgotla

The press club exco held its annual lekgotla at The Soweto Hotel at the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication - also known as Freedom Square - on 29 January. The square is a National Heritage Site dedicated to the memory of the Freedom Charter of 26 June 1955. Thank you to General Manager Lindiwe Sangweni-Siddo and her team for hosting the meeting, which was held in the Winnie Mandela boardroom.


Lindiwe Sangweni-Siddo, General Manager of The Soweto Hotel (second from right, back row) with the press club exco following its annual lekgotla. Chairperson Yusuf Abramjee had just left for another meeting.

Successful deliberations - from left, exco member Ben Rootman, chairperson Yusuf Abramjee and deputy chairperson Jos Charle.

The exco planned the club's activities for the year, many of which will be announced soon (including the name of the 2010 Newsmaker of the Year).

It also decided on an increase in membership fees, after fees stayed the same for the past four years. The new annual fees are:

  • Full members - R180
  • Associate members - R250
  • Student members - R120

The invoices for 2011 will reach members soon. Members should please use their invoice numbers as reference when making an electronic transfer, so that the secretariat can keep track of payments received.

Welcome to new club members

The National Press Club welcomes the following new members and looks forward to seeing them at a club event soon: Annalise Kempen - SARP Publishers, Lesego Teffu - University of Pretoria, Carolina van der Spuy - freelance journalist, Kirosha Naicker - University of South Africa, Liana Prinsloo - Life Healthcare Carstenhof Clinic and Dineo Thapelo of the North West Department of Local Government and Traditional Affairs.

Member news

The press club was sad to hear about the passing of former member and veteran public relations practitioner Kosie Venter (80) on 20 December. Marnus Roothman represented the club at Kosie's funeral - thank you Marnus.

Exco member Tanya de Vente-Bijker had an emergency appendix operation recently - we are glad to see that you have recovered, Tanya!

Press club member Hanti Otto has left the Pretoria News after many years and has moved across to Beeld. We wish you all the best in your new position, Hanti!

Feedback

Please send any news, suggestions or information for this newsletter to Martin van Niekerk at the secretariat on martin@junxionpr.co.za,
+27 (0)12 804 5199. Visit the website at www.nationalpressclub.co.za.

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