The National Press Club has welcomed President Jacob Zuma’s comments about freedom of the media, his condemnation of ANCYL President, Julius Malema’s treatment of a BBC journalist and a statement that the press should be engaged “professionally and with dignity.” “We are delighted that President Zuma again reaffirmed that we should be allowed to do our work unhindered,” chairperson of the National Press Club, Yusuf Abramjee, said in a statement. Yesterday, the Press Club convened an urgent summit of media body representatives, editors and political correspondents to discuss Malema’s on-going attacks on journalists.
The meeting resolved that a media delegation “engage” with President Zuma as the leader of the ANC and the ANCYL’s mother body, as a matter of urgency. “The name-calling and abuse of the media by Malema must stop and we want Zuma to protect media freedom,” an earlier statement said. Abramjee addressed a letter to President Zuma earlier today calling for a meeting. He said the Presidency has indicated to him that a date will be finalized on Zuma’s return from the USA next week. “Today, Zuma hit out at the ANCYL in one of his strongest statements yet and we welcome it. “Those who are out of line should be brought to order and be disciplined,” said Abramjee “and Malema has been given free reign for far too long.”
The President said the country’s Constitution enshrines the principle of freedom of the media. “An independent and free media is one of the cornerstones of democracy. It is an important barometer of the extent to which the people are freely able to express themselves.” Zuma added: “While in a democracy there will inevitably be times of contestation between the media and other sections of society, the fundamental principles should be adhered to at all times. We must accord journalists the freedom to do their work unhindered. “We should engage them professionally and with dignity. Should there be a need to take issue with anything that is being reported, it should be done in a manner that promotes frank and open engagement, ” Zuma added. Abramjee said Zuma’s comments were heartening.
“We are delighted that our head of state has addressed this issue in a strong and balanced way. We are also told that action will be taken by the ANC if anyone breaks the rules. Let’s hope these words are now put into action.” He said a delegation of media representatives were looking forward in engaging Zuma on media issues. “Zuma’s attitude towards the media is welcomed. His on-going engagement with the media is commendable. We call on other leaders within the ruling party to heed Zuma’s words and follow his example.” Abramjee added: “Yes, there is going to tension between government, political parties and the media from time to time. But, let’s do it with respect and dignity and stop the name-calling, the intimidation and general abuse of the media by people like Malema and his spokespeople.”
Enquiries: Yusuf Abramjee, cell 082 4414 203