The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) has learnt that both the national and provincial spheres of government have discriminated against several community media journalists in Limpopo on Tuesday 26 November 2019. The journalists were invited on a trip to cover the launch of 16 days of activism, including a visit to the Medupi Power Station and the launch of a new District Development Model in Waterberg aimed at ensuring integrated planning, budgeting and development by all three spheres of government.
Reports to SANEF indicate that community media journalists were left off the bus which was transporting all media. Only a selected group of journalists were invited. The community media were also excluded from a media networking session.
SANEF finds these exclusions worrying, as it has been the norm for government to support community media by way of transport to key events.
Community media lack the resources - financial and otherwise – to get to far-flung areas and other destinations and for government to arbitrarily pull the plug on such support is unfair. This affects the free flow of information particularly to rural communities which are dependent on the community media sector.
SANEF reiterates that all journalists should be invited and be welcome at all public events and that special provisions should be made for community media.
Finally, we note with concern that the exclusion of the community media sector by government reinforces the recent decision by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) to ban the Daily Maverick and the investigative units, Scorpio and amaBhungane from their media events. SANEF calls for transparency and accountability to be prioritised by all state entities including political parties in the National Assembly, the Provincial Legislatures and Local Government.