The South African government’s version of what transpired in the Central African Republic last weekend continues to be found wanting. There are still more questions about what exactly happened, where exactly the troops were when they were attacked and why they were there in the first place. At the same time, the members of SANDF in South Africa feel demoralised about their colleagues' engagement and lack of understanding of its very purpose. By GREG NICOLSON, KHADIJA PATEL and THAPELO LEKGOWA.
The Competition Commission of South Africa has declared the newspaper industry an “emerging priority sector” because of growing allegations of monopolistic behaviour among the four major publishers. The release of details on the scale of its probe to Daily Maverick this week reveals why.
There’s a problem in Israel, and for once it doesn’t have much to do with Palestine. Instead, right-wing Israelis have found a new target: black African immigrants, otherwise known as the ‘cancer’ that threatens to “destroy our country”.
Now that the foul-mouthed Jessica Leandra Dos Santos has suffered the opprobrium and fury of a nation, not to mention the loss of sponsorship deals, where to next? We’re supposed to be building a non-racial country, not just shouting down those who offend the sensibilities of our Constitution.
Some of the most successful tales in recent years have been of imaginary worlds. From Star Wars through Harry Potter, The Matrix and now The Hunger Games, these “alternative” worlds have been phenomenal in every sense of the word. Maybe a re-imagined alternative world is what keeps ordinary Zimbabweans going from day to tortuous day.
President Zuma claims that humanity is lost when there is no fear of God. In an environment where Helen Zille has to endure a week of criticism for speaking of education refugees, how can Zuma get a free pass on this dangerously intolerant rhetoric?
There were many good reasons for Senegal’s Abdoulaye Wade to gracefully concede the presidential election. His age, reputation, the constitution, the results – together, these all made his third term impossible. Nonetheless, we should laud the example of an African president who was, eventually, prepared to listen to his people and step aside.
Kony 2012 is the biggest campaign of its kind, but it’s not the first. Remember Live Aid? Remember George Clooney on Darfur? We’ve been here before, and so far it hasn’t ended in peace and prosperity for Africa or Sudan. Maybe there’s a lesson in that somewhere.
In his book Eight Days in September, Reverend Frank Chikane makes an extraordinary claim: the ANC was almost happy to flout the rules to remove Thabo Mbeki from office. If you read the Constitution, he’s technically right. If there ever was a sign that South Africa’s democracy is young, and consequently vulnerable, it is this.
So everyone now knows who Joseph Kony is. Great, I’m sure he’s shivering in his combat boots, if he’s even been able to watch the video that is launching him to terrorist superstardom (do they have 3G in the bush?). It’s just a pity that at best the campaign will achieve nothing, and at worst it’s got the potential to do a lot of damage in a very fragile part of the world.
Forget all the emotive arguments for and against self-regulation of the media. The numbers alone paint a clear picture: 70% of the top 50 countries in the Reporters Without Borders and Freedom House press-freedom rankings practice self-regulation.
Today marks a week’s anniversary of the notoriously dubbed “Black Tuesday”, a throwback to the Black Wednesday of 1977 that saw the then apartheid government ban various publications and prominent journalists. But is the bill in question, the Protection of State Information Bill (ominously nicknamed the Secrecy Bill) really all that it’s cracked up to be? Or is this just a storm in a teacup?
Well, well, well. So now we know what Mac Maharaj so desperately doesn’t want us to know. Information wants to be free and all that. The president’s spokesman hasn’t exactly resoundingly refuted the allegations against him in the press. Am I the only one waiting with bated breath for the arms deal commission and what it will uncover?
Despite Monday's suspension of the Protection of State Information bill, pending more consultation within the ANC, anxiety is growing among activists, journalists, media commentators and, increasingly, the general public as media freedom is under threat. In tackling media transformation, the government needs to ask some hard questions of the broadcasting sector, rather than focusing its attention mainly on the print media.
There's been a plethora of media freedom and access to information events in Cape Town over the last week, and protests and pleas. Because, or perhaps despite them, South Africa's Protection of Information bill has been postponed from becoming law. But what of the proposed media appeals tribunal?
News International's current downward spiral seems like just desserts after years of unethical practices. But the fall-out from the phone-hacking scandal extends far beyond the UK. It's not looking pretty for press freedom in Africa as News of the World's illegal actions provide plenty of ammunition for governments looking to crack down on the media.
Media responsibility and public trust in the media are similar to the adage of the chicken and the egg. But it’s not so much a question of which comes first, but rather that the one simply cannot exist without the other.
Uganda's Walk to Work campaign, begun on 11 April, was to be a peaceful demonstration against steeply rising fuel and food prices. The government's heavy-handed response has resulted in the arrest of opposition leaders, a brutal crackdown on protesters and censorship of media coverage. But the protesters, ironically following in the footsteps of Museveni's earlier spirit of rebellion, are not giving up.
Andries Tatane’s horrifying death at the hands of South African police in Ficksburg elicited the reactions it did mostly because of the in-your-face power of television footage. Yet the scores of other incidents of state brutality evoke little more than a few breakfast tut-tuts. The media’s threadbare excuse for it euphemistic reporting under the guise of not causing offence is irresponsibility verging on hypocrisy.
As journalists, we like to imagine we'd be pretty good at running the government. Truth is, we'd probably suck at it, but we never have to put our grand theories to the test. Conversely, governments around the globe have long played out their fantasies of running the media. In South Africa, the government has just announced that it'll be launching a monthly newspaper, Vuk’uzenzele. But, just as journalists do not a good government make, governments make lousy journalists.
The Swazi media has, for the most part, been silent about – and at times even tacitly supported – King Mswati III's human rights abuses. And the foreign media hasn't been much help either. It's about time journalists speak up for freedom of expression, not to mention democracy.
With Somaliland’s government banning a London-based Somali-language TV channel for “instigating clan disagreements” to improve ratings, now – as ever, in Africa – is a good time to talk about censorship. The media, both African and international, immediately cries foul whenever anybody tries to censor anything. But it’s a knee-jerk reaction, from an interested party and ignores the fact that sometimes, in certain situations, the media should be censored.
In Ethiopia President Meles Zenawi rules with an iron fist and a stranglehold on the media. Uganda, by contrast, boasts a relatively free environment. Why then is the media not asking deeper questions about President Yoweri Museveni's continued grasp on power?
Having a good fixer is essential if you're a foreign correspondent. The best journalists trust good fixers. The worst journalists won’t believe their fixers, and that’s where real ethical and journalistic conflicts can arise. I've been involved in this relationship from both sides, and have learnt to “never say never”.
Foreign correspondents are an increasingly rare species and especially unaffordable for African news organisations. For on-the-ground reporting, we need to embrace models for sharing content about our continent - content not produced by the Western newswires, but by local correspondents.
The recent uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and now Libya have fascinated many within the pro-democracy groups in Swaziland. By the same token, the ruling regime has been rattled. In an undemocratic country like Swaziland, people have good reason to monitor what is happening in the north and to – a large extent – even aspire to have the same courage and motivation as the revolutionaries. Given the mainstream media's failure to adequately cover these events, Swazi citizens are turning to Facebook to find out the news – and plan their own uprising.
Much of the reporting about Africa is done from a Western perspective – and then fed back to Africans via global news agencies. The much-vaunted concept of African unity doesn't stand a chance until we start to determine our own priorities, and stop seeing ourselves through others' eyes. We desperately need an “African Al Jazeera” that will enable us to tell our own stories – to each other, and to the world.
Conflict journalism is never easy. The hardships male reporters experience pale against those, both tacit and blatant, that women have to face. The horrific sexual attack on CBS reporter Lara Logan at the height of jubilation in Cairo’s Tahrir Square has focused the spotlight on women journalists simply trying to do their jobs.
When Hosni Mubarak’s thugs were roaming the streets around Tahrir Square looking for foreigners to beat up or arrest, there were a few nationalities singled out for particular attention. Israelis, of course, and Americans. Brits, Germans, and the French; nothing unusual there. But there was another country on the list: Qatar. This tiny nation of just 1.5 million people did something to really piss off Mubarak’s people, and it was obvious: Al Jazeera.
Zimbabwe is neither Tunisia nor Egypt. Far from it! In fact, Zimbabwe's political predicament is far worse than that of these two North African countries before their recent revolutions.
The revolution spreading through North Africa and the Middle East is primarily concerned with toppling corrupt and brutal dictatorships. At the same time, it's a rejection of the warm, fuzzy promises made by globalisation.
What scares those in power most about the Internet and social media is that they don’t have control in those spheres anymore. And how do you maintain power if you no longer have control?
Freedom of the media is a noble prerequisite to true democracy, but if South Africans lack the freedom to acquire knowledge and the wherewithal to participate in the debate, freedom of expression is an empty liberty.