African National Congress

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After a decade of unprecedented growth and development, the insistence on positive news remains a significant threat to press freedom in sub-Saharan Africa. By Mohamed Keita

A newspaper displayed in the Ikoyi district of Lagos on September 30, 2013, tells of a deadly attack on a college in northeast Nigeria by suspected Boko Haram militants. Coverage of the group can be sensitive in Nigeria. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)
A newspaper displayed in the Ikoyi district of Lagos on September 30, 2013, tells of a deadly attack on a college in northeast Nigeria by suspected Boko Haram militants. Coverage of the group can be sensitive in Nigeria. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

How robust are the institutional safeguards that underpin Nelson Mandela's vision of a strong and independent South African media? By Sue Valentine

Nelson Mandela, pictured in May 2011, sometimes accused critical black journalists of disloyalty during his presidency.  (AFP/Elmond Jiyane)
Nelson Mandela, pictured in May 2011, sometimes accused critical black journalists of disloyalty during his presidency. (AFP/Elmond Jiyane)

A protest against the Protection of Information Bill outside parliament in Cape Town, November 22, 2011. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

South African journalists and civil society groups were uneasy this month amid rumors that the Protection of State Information Bill, commonly known as the Secrecy Bill, would pass the Upper House of parliament, the last step before a presidential signature. Since 2008, journalists and civil society have lobbied against the bill, which many fear would spell the end of investigative journalism. A number of these fears have been alleviated by nearly 200 amendments to the draft since its inception, according to the communications director of the ruling African National Congress's (ANC) parliamentary caucus, Moloto Mothapo.

A screen shot of a graphic released by City Press' parent company that samples tweets from around the country. (Media24/Andrew Trench)

South African journalist and arts critic Charl Blignaut made what turned out to be an excellent prediction. "Of all the work on show, it's this depiction of the president that will set the most tongues wagging and most likely generate some howls of disapproval," he wrote on May 13 in a review of an art exhibition in Johannesburg.

Protesters burn a copy of the City Press newspaper. (AFP/Rajesh Jantilal)

New York, May 30, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the campaign of harassment and intimidation against a newspaper in South Africa after it published a photo of a painting of President Jacob Zuma more than two weeks ago.

Civil unrest grips downtown Kampala. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said journalists who covered the protests were 'enemies' of the country's development. (AP/Stephen Wandera)

Many African leaders continue to offer a false choice between stability and press freedom. Taking a cue from China, a key investor and model, they stress social stability and development over openness and reform. By Mohamed Keita

South African President Jacob Zuma, center, and other members of the ANC cut a cake celebrating the 100th year of the party. (EPA/Elmond Jiyane)

On January 8, 1912, South African intellectuals--including pioneering black newspaper publishers Pixley ka Isaka Seme, editor of Abantu-Batho, and John Langalibalele Dube, editor of Ilanga lase Natal--formed Africa's oldest liberation movement, the African National Congress (ANC), in the Wesleyan Church in Bloemfontein.

A protest against pending state secrets legislation in South Africa. (Chris Yelland)

Irrespective of whether South Africa actually implements the most draconian parts of state secrets legislation now under consideration, the media in the continent's most open democracy already feel under threat. The prospect of 25-year jail sentences for journalists publishing "classified" information has galvanized disparate news outlets and journalists groups to work together like never before. 

South Africa's "secrecy bill" has to be signed by President Jacob Zuma before it becomes law. (AP)

Johannesburg, December 8, 2011--South African authorities should heed widespread calls to drop a "secrecy bill" that opponents say will criminalize whistle-blowing and stifle investigative journalism, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

South Africans protest the information bill outside parliament. (Anna Majavu/Sunday Times)

New York, November 22, 2011--The South African National Assembly today passed an information bill which would sanction unauthorized possession and publication of classified state information with a prison term of up to 25 years, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the upper house of parliament to reject the bill, which has been criticized by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former President Nelson Mandela, among others.

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