SANEF invokes swart gevaar over Sekunjalo purchase of Independent Group - ANC

Keith Khoza says that almost 20 years into democracy only 14% of media in black hands (June 13)

Statement of the African National Congress on comments made by SANEF on INMSA deal

The African National Congress has noted with interest the false, opportunistic and thinly disguised racist debate raised by SANEF on the proposed buyout of Independent News and Media SA (INMSA) by the Sekunjalo Consortium.

The prospect of black South Africans taking ownership of INMSA has awaken from slumber the lumbering SANEF which for decades has kept silent on many definitive moments in the history of South Africa's media industry.

In an open letter to the Competition Commission, SANEF has the audacity to make an impassioned plea for transparency regarding the prospective owners of Sekunjalo, indeed such is not out of concern that South African media must remain in South African hands, but rather seeks to invoke the "swart gevaar" that media cannot be in black hands. SANEF remained silent and never raised similar concerns when white and predominantly foreign interests undertook other transactions in the media industry, thus leading the ANC to question the bona fides of SANEF in this regard

Almost 20 years into democracy, only 14% of media is in the ownership of black hands. SANEF's complacent resistance to media transformation is continuing unabated, as evidenced their silence during the recent culling of black editors at Times Media. For years, INMSA in particular and many media houses have been in Afrikaner and foreign hands and at no point was such a cause for concern nor did SANEF ever see the need to blink an eye.

The transparency that is called for seeks to achieve nothing but to ensure that blacks in general and those who may be progressive in outlook should never occupy any space in the media. We, as the African National Congress, welcome the transformative role played by, amongst others, the Government Employee Pension Fund to deracialise the commanding and agenda-setting heights of our economy with no fear or favour.

SANEF's insult on our sensitivities as Africans is further extended through the red herring that is raised that no political party must be involved in the appointment of the CEO and Chair of the INMSA, yet again an assault on the integrity of the political leadership of this country and a veiled innuendo against the African National Congress in particular.

Amongst the absurd statements made by this paragon of media freedom, is a call for the new owners to respect the "constitutional mandate of journalists" allowing them to report as they please with no checks and balances against which to monitor and manage their impact in society, a point raised by the African National Congress before and vehemently defended by the media. This attitude of callous disregard of duty beyond that which is self-serving has become characteristic of SANEF and its members.

It is no a secret that many in the media are intent on protecting the interests of the ruling class with no regard of the aspirations of the majority of South Africans and SANEF's posture in the matter of the INMSA is a glaring example of this. It is indeed disingenuous to speak of media freedom without intricately linking it to media transformation in South Africa.

The views that SANEF espouses, and which they are attempting to protect today, have been a consistent attack on the aspiration and successes of our democracy. These are touted and defended under the blanket umbrella of media freedom and freedom of expression, assuming indeed rights with no obligations for SANEF and its members.

The African National Congress echoes the call by Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Communications that print media transformation, in particular, must be fast-tracked to ensure the print media industry is a mirror of the present democratic dispensation. SANEF and its reactive views can no longer be allowed to remain an obstacle towards the attainment of this objective.

Statement issued by Keith Khoza, African National Congress, June 13 2013

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