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