Mthembu’s calls for a me­dia TRC slammed by DA, EFF

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - BON­GANI HANS

ANC par­lia­men­tary chief whip Jack­son Mthembu has called for a for­ma­tion of a me­dia truth and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion com­mis­sion (TRC) at which the me­dia can con­fess and apol­o­gise for its role in hu­man rights atroc­i­ties com­mit­ted dur­ing the height of apartheid.

He made this call dur­ing a de­bate about the in­de­pen­dence of the me­dia dur­ing the Daily Mav­er­ick’s Gathering di­a­logue at the Cape Town In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­tre yes­ter­day.

He shared the stage with EFF spokesper­son Mbuyiseni Nd­lozi and his DA coun­ter­part Phumzile van Damme,who both op­posed the ANC’s call for a me­dia tri­bunal to reg­u­late the me­dia.

Mthembu ac­cused main­stream me­dia houses of hav­ing been “com­plicit in the acts of the apartheid regime to ex­ploit, and to dis­crim­i­nate against the black ma­jor­ity”.

He said the me­dia did this by turn­ing a blind eye to the atroc­i­ties of the apartheid regime, in­stead of ex­pos­ing its wrong­do­ings.

ANC spokesper­son Zizi Kodwa said Mthembu’s state­ment re­flected the po­si­tion of the ANC, but de­clined to elab­o­rate on it.

Mthembu said the TRC, that was set up 20 years ago, had been in­formed by the ANC that “the SABC and Afrikaans press” had served as mouth­pieces of the regime.

“They also served as in­stru­ments of sub­ju­ga­tion and mis­in­for­ma­tion. With the ex­cep­tion of the then Ar­gus Group, the South African mass me­dia failed to par­tic­i­pate in the TRC.

“They failed to ex­plain their roles dur­ing apartheid, and what their roles were go­ing to be in a demo­cratic South Africa,” said Mthembu.

He said due to their re­fusal to ac­count to the TRC, mis­trust still ex­ists be­tween “those who were in the lib­er­a­tion forces trenches to fight apartheid on one side and the me­dia on the other”.

“Would it not be ap­pro­pri­ate for the me­dia to have its own TRC, even at this late stage – so that through such a com­mis­sion, our me­dia tries every­thing to break with this hor­ri­ble past?

“A me­dia TRC would en­deav­our to cre­ate trust be­tween the me­dia and the gen­eral South African pop­u­la­tion,” Mthembu said.

He said due to mis­trust that the South African pop­u­la­tion has with the me­dia, the ANC was calling for a par­lia­men­tary in­quiry into me­dia.

“We fully be­lieve that the power and in­flu­ence that the me­dia has in all sec­tors of so­ci­ety and in all cor­ners of our lives ne­ces­si­tate that the me­dia should not be its own judge and jury.

“The past, that all of us come from and the role of the me­dia in that past, makes it al­most im­pos­si­ble for any­body to be­lieve the me­dia can have the moral and po­lit­i­cal au­thor­ity to self-reg­u­late,” he said.

How­ever, Van Damme dif­fered with Mthembu, say­ing that the DA was in sup­port of me­dia self-reg­u­la­tion.

“We cer­tainly do not sup­port the po­si­tion where politi­cians are the ones hold­ing you (me­dia) ac­count­able,” she said.

Nd­lozi said the me­dia should have self-reg­u­la­tion, but with “teeth” to hold it­self ac­count­able.

He said cur­rently, the me­dia did not have an ef­fec­tive self-reg­u­la­tory strat­egy, which was why it was “haunted by fake news”.

“Peo­ple are not free to en­gage in fake news.”

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