Thuli Madonsela and Julius Malema awarded newsmakers of the National Press Club – Aon South Africa Newsmaker of the Year 2011

“We don’t need a media tribunal – we are able and capable of regulating ourselves.”

This is according to Yusuf Abramjee, Chairman of the National Press Club.

Speaking at the National Press Club – Aon South Africa – Newsmaker of the Year award in Pretoria, Abramjee said a government appointed tribunal will be an insult to our democracy and our constitution.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and suspended ANC Youth League President Julius Malema were awarded as the joint National Press Club – Aon South Africa Newsmakers of the Year for 2011.

“While the Press Ombudsman system has shortcomings and urgently need to be strengthened, we continue to demand self-regulation. The media, however, should always pride itself on balanced, fair, accurate and independent journalism.

“The club declared Black Tuesday late last year. It was the day when the National Assembly voted in favour of what some call the ‘secrecy laws’. Not only did the media unite, but civil society also. Hundreds of NGOs, leading academics, politicians past and present, corporate South Africa and many throughout the world has spoken out against the bill.

“Freedom of speech and freedom of expression is key to a free media. Any move to silence us will be opposed at every turn. There is no way that we can go back to the dark days of apartheid when censorship, banning orders and the arrest of editors and journalists was the modus operandi of the government of that time.

“If government is are going to forge ahead with the bill, we will have Black Monday, Black Tuesday, Black Wednesday, Black Thursday, Black Friday, Black Saturday, Black Sunday – the fight continues,” said Abramjee.

“Both Madonsela and Malema made headlines day in and day out. They dominated the pages of our newspapers and the airwaves. They got us talking, writing and debating.

Aon South Africa Chief Executive Officer Anton Roux says the fact that two individuals on vastly different poles of the public reporting spectrum can be newsmakers is a clear indication of how diverse and free South Africa’s media can report.

“This is a privilege that can never again be forfeited. We at Aon South Africa are proud to be associated with such a scientifically determined award that recognises people who capture public sentiment and fuel open, democratic debate. It is an opportunity to recognise the courage and the commitment of the media and ordinary South Africans to ensure that our hard won media freedom remains intact. It also allows us to impress upon each and every journalist the enormous responsibility they have in ensuring that as citizens, we can continue to believe what we read and hear in the news,” said Roux.

Read the address by Yusuf Abramjee, Chairman of the National Press Club