đź”’ Malema and Dlamini attacks on the media are dangerous

By Felicity Duncan

Over the weekend, Minister in the Presidency Responsible for Women Bathabile Dlamini reportedly banned eNCA from covering the launch of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign and EFF leader Julius Malema reportedly banned the Sunday Times from covering his events.

While I don’t know the specifics of either politician’s decision, I do know that when politicians start to hide their actions, things can get dangerous. A free and vibrant press is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a functional democracy. You may not personally like eNCA or the Sunday Times, but they are home to journalists who care about covering the news and making sure that South Africans get the information they need to be informed citizens.

Journalists are imperfect, of course, and they make mistakes. But when politicians start to bar unfriendly press from their events, we start to enter unsafe territory. Politicians in a democracy must accept criticism as part and parcel of democracy. Disagreement is fundamental to deliberation, and democracy needs deliberation to be legitimate and functional. One of South Africa’s key democratic strengths is its vibrant and feisty news media. The media may not always get it right, but the alternative – a compliant, state-owned press that toes the party line – is much worse.

In Premium today, you can listen to the latest episode of The Editor’s Desk – Alec Hogg and I discuss the cabinet reshuffle, Pravin Gordhan’s state capture testimony, and the latest Steinhoff news. You can also read about the EFF’s involvement in the VBS scandal and why Tesla is a magnet for talented young workers.

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