Apart from contemplating the implications if Jacob Zuma becomes leader
of the African National Congress (ANC), analysts want to see the media
policy that will emerge from the party’s conference next week, writes Wilson Johwa in Business Day.

A shift to the left on economic policy, and a rightward tilt on social issues — that is what some expect to come from the conference in Polokwane.

The effect on the press would be to “bolster the forces of conservatism that are attempting to control content considered to be indecent or immoral,” says Jane Duncan, director of the Freedom of Expression Institute.

The ANC deputy president is seen as holding conservative moral views. But Zuma’s rise — which has been a rejection of centralised power — may also present opportunities.

Duncan say these include the potential for Parliament to reclaim greater authority, and a weaning of the public broadcaster from political manipulation.

Debate at the ANC’s conference is likely to centre on aspects of a discussion paper titled Communications and the Battle of Ideas. The paper flowed from the party’s June policy conference.

Projecting what one analyst described as a “feeling of embattlement”, the paper describes South African media as largely unrepresentative and inadequately regulated. Countering the “ideological offensive” driven mainly by the opposition and individuals in the mainstream media is seen as an imperative.

The ANC’s primary intention is to fast-track the present “slow paced” transformation as well as countering “market fundamentalism” that the party says is bent on retaining “old apartheid economic and social relations”.

It bemoans the lack of skills to analyse SA’s social transformation and the dearth of investment in “development journalism” by the profit-driven private media.

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