The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) is deeply perturbed
at the outbreak of xenophobic violence in various parts of the country
during the past week, according to a media release. The fact that the violence is against political
and economic refugees renders them double victims.

The scenes witnessed in the past week are contrary to South Africa’s ethos of non-racialism, tolerance and respect for human rights. We call on all South Africans, in particular the political, religious, business and civil society leadership to help stop the violence.

SANEF is also concerned at the virtual collapse of the leadership of the SABC with the suspension of the head of news and shortly after the CEO, followed by a note of no confidence in the SABC board by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications. Sanef believes that the difficulties arise partially from political interference in the governance and administration of the SABC.

The organisation draws attention to the fact that though the SABC is in state stewardship, its role is that of an independent public broadcaster. As such, Sanef calls on government to consider a process for the selection of the board that is totally separate from party political processes.

Sanef advocates a process similar to that agreed between the Campaign for Independent Broadcasting and the ANC in 1992 and 1993 where “eminent” South Africans with no direct party political links, form a selection panel to conduct hearings of members for the board and the selection of SABC board members.

Sanef also deplores the party political deployment of cadres to senior positions at the SABC which contributes to the political turmoil there.

Council expressed concern at the withdrawal of advertising from Grocott’s Mail by Grahamstown’s Makana Municipality, which was a punitive measure against the paper for publishing critical reports on the council’s conduct of affairs. Sanef is to investigate aligning itself with the court action which the paper has now launched against the municipality.

The organisation said it would seek engagement with the Zimbabwean government around open accreditation for the presidential election run-off, in line with the SADC guidelines for election coverage. It would also communicate with Zimbabwean editors and The African Editors Forum about the conditions for free coverage of the election.

The council also resolved to draw editors’ attention to Police Standing Order 156 which sets out the conduct of the police towards media personnel, and also to the agreement by the police to establish a hotline for media to call in the event of journalists experiencing problems with members of the force.

Issued by: SA National Editors' Forum (SANEF)
18 May 2008

For further comment please contact:

Jovial Rantao – SANEF Chairperson: 082 446 6008
Henry Jeffreys – SANEF Deputy Chairperson: 082 556 8883
Mary Papayya – SANEF Secretary-General: 082 379 4957
Raymond Louw – SANEF Media Freedom Sub-Committee Chair: 011 646 8790 / 082 446 5155