The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) says it held a “very open” and constructive meeting with Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams following an incident in which she blocked journalists from covering the ANC manifesto launch in the Eastern Cape over the weekend.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Sanef said Ndabeni-Abrahams had expressed “remorse” and “unreservedly apologised” for the incident.
“The Sanef delegation stressed to the minister the severity of her actions as undermining media freedom and the broader implications [they have] on the industry,” the forum said.
“The minister expressed her commitment to championing the sanctity of media independence, protected by the country’s constitution.”
On Saturday, a group of people wearing ANC regalia interrupted party treasurer Paul Mashatile during his speech at the election manifesto launch.
The group sang struggle songs while holding up placards about poor service delivery, the Citizen reported.
Ndabeni-Abrahams was quoted as saying: “Why would you give coverage to people who are out of order?”
Following the incident, Ndabeni-Abrahams issued a statement apologising.
Sanef said it welcomed the sentiment expressed by the minister and her promise of greater activism for media freedom and democracy.
The forum added that Ndabeni-Abrahams also confirmed that she would be meeting with the SABC’s management to discuss what unfolded.
“Sanef and the minister also discussed recent incidents of cyber bullying, and the weaponisation of social media against journalists in an attempt to discredit, threaten and silence them.
“Sanef and the minister have agreed to work together to protect journalists against attempts to intimidate them in an increasingly hostile environment.”