Matthews Phosa, a member of the African National Congress’ (ANC)
national executive committee, has warned against an authoritarian
executive, and defended the watchdog role of Parliament and the media, write Hajra Omarjee and Karima Brown in Business Day.

Phosa is the first ANC national executive committee member to argue publicly in favour of media freedom since recent threats to arrest editors at the Sunday Times.

Newsrooms have come under intense pressure from ANC and government leaders over a series of high-profile stories.

Among these are the ANC’s succession debate, the state’s failed attempts to prosecute ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma, exposés of the health minister’s alleged abuse of office, and the president’s suspension of National Prosecuting Authority chief Vusi Pikoli.

Speaking in a parliamentary roundtable discussion to mark “Black Wednesday”, Phosa, a former Mpumalanga premier, said the government ran the “risk” of “isolating itself” and being viewed as “aloof”.

Responding to questions about the state of the media and its relations with the government, Phosa said the ANC did not need a “puppet SABC” or “puppet journalists”.

Click here to read the full report, posted on Business Day's website.