After Zanu PF-aligned group Chipangano threatened action against Nando’s for flighting a satirical advert featuring Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (via DStv), the fast-food chain has withdrawn the commercial from our screens. And yes, that includes South Africa. We can still all watch it on YouTube though, where it's gone viral, racking up almost 25,000 hits so far. By THERESA MALLINSON.
Liberian President Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson may be the flavour of the month in the international community after being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October. But her government's handling of dissenting voices during Liberia's election period has been far from peaceful. By THERESA MALLINSON.
Al Jazeera’s English channel is to boldly (very boldly) tread where other news networks have so far only tiptoed, with a television show known as The Stream. It promises to incorporate social media in a way no other network has done before. Or rather, other networks have sort of tried and have been dreadful at it. What will Al Jazeera do differently? By SIPHO HLONGWANE.
South African photojournalist Anton Hammerl has been detained in Libya for 10 days – and counting. SA's diplomats say it is a “delicate situation”, and can’t give details of negotiations for his release. Yet four New York Times journalists captured in Libya in March were released after only six days, while, in another great example of great skill and dedication of our government, the South African consulate in Tripoli has yet to locate Hammerl. And it took them eight days to just to contact his family. By THERESA MALLINSON.
Swaziland has turned into a mini-war-zone as police armed to the teeth parade the streets in a public display of military might. Soldiers have been occupying strategic areas, while roadblocks have been mounted across the country in preparation for the planned uprising on Tuesday. Several activists have been arrested, and the Swazi Labour Federation headquarters has been surrounded by police. By MANQOBA NXUMALO.
If we ever needed proof Laurent Gbagbo has completely lost control of his army, it’s the latest developments in Abidjan. Armed fighters reportedly broke into the Novotel Hotel late on Monday, seizing five hostages and making off with them before the French army could get there. Surely Gbagbo wouldn’t be that stupid? By SIPHO HLONGWANE.
Last month Free African Media reported on the arrest of Somali journalists by various Islamist militia factions, but the Somali transitional federal government isn't too keen on media freedom either, summarily ordering Radio Kulmiye to shut down early in March. Although the independent radio station was allowed back on air a mere 48 hours later, its short closure was a dispiriting reminder of the many pressures media in Somalia face. BY AY MOHAMED.
What would you say to the man who killed your entire family, or shot you in both legs, causing them to be amputated, or hit your infant daughter on the head with a rifle butt, leaving her half-blind for life? In the film, “The Redemption of General Butt Naked”, US filmmakers Daniele Anastasion and Eric Strauss take us to the doorstep of these encounters. The result is electrifying reality cinema. It is also an uncomfortable stew of moral quandaries. By MICHAEL KEATING.
A conference at Wits on media rights and regulations in Africa was a place of passionate debate that recognised depth of the problems we're facing. There was also a clear understanding that the fight for truth, and freedom of expressing it, will be fought across the continent for many years to come. Report by THERESA MALLINSON.
Electioneering is in full swing ahead of Nigeria's April polls and television advertising is playing a prominent part in this. So far, two candidates have dominated – incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, and former chairman of the economic and financial crimes commission Nuhu Ribadu. By REMMY NWEKE.
Did you know they have “press rallies” in Malawi? That the media in Senegal is relatively free, but doesn't always report the news responsibly? That most of Kenya's media is owned by politicians? These are just a few of the many interesting – and chilling – facts and opinions that came to light at the panel discussion. But the overwhelming message is that African journalists have a lot to say – and are eager to explore ways that will allow them say it without fear of repercussions. By THERESA MALLINSON.
During February’s polls in Uganda and the campaigns that preceded them, journalists had a tough time of it, being harassed and intimidated by both ruling and opposition parties. With Museveni still in power, it doesn't seem the situation will improve anytime soon. But at least journalists are out of immediate danger – for now. By TOM RHODES.
Ghana has a proud tradition of investigative reporting. Its latest practitioner is Anas Aremeyaw Anas, who specialises in going undercover. He's exposed corruption in cocoa smuggling, the running of mental homes and orphanages, and most recently at the country's main port. Seems apt that he works for a newspaper called The New Crusading Guide. By BAAFOO AHENKORA.
On Thursday afternoon, Nigeria's Freedom of Information (FoI) bill was passed by the house of representatives, without much opposition. However, it still needs to pass the senate and be signed by the president before it becomes law. And with certain areas like law enforcement, the economy, international affairs, and defence potentially exempt from the bill, not all information will be equally accessible. By REMMY NWEKE.
Against a backdrop of President Robert Mugabe’s government’s record of media oppression and using state-controlled media to promote the partisan politics of Zanu-PF, Zimbabwe’s government of national unity seemed to begin its rule in the perfect way by ending a bloody decade for the media. A pledge to reform media, the appointment of a new media commission to “liberalise” the airwaves and a promise to review the country’s tough media laws brought renewed hope. Pity these commitments have yet to materialise. By RAY NDLOVU.
In many countries where freedom of expression is a foreign concept, the biggest tool used to subdue the media is state repression. In Somalia, as in the semi-autonomous regions of Somaliland and Puntland, journalists have to contend with the various Islamist militia factions as well. Sometimes they are seemingly arbitrarily thrown in jail, before being released without explanation. Other times they are “officially” sentenced to stay there. By AY MOHAMED.
If you haven’t watched television news on the South African public broadcaster for a while, there may be a reason to tune back to that channel. From March, former SABC, Reuters and etv hard newsman Jimi Matthews returns to the helm of television news. His frank talk in a rare interview may just surprise, perhaps even delight you. By MANDY DE WAAL.
The Press Council public hearings resumed in Eastern Cape on Monday, where academics from Rhodes University made detailed submissions. Again ANC representatives failed to show face, despite being the loudest voices calling for press reforms. More worrying, however, was the failure of civil society members and the general public to attend hearings. By MICHELLE SOLOMON.
In Nigeria different organisations regulate computer hardware, the Internet and telecommunications companies. Given the role all these elements play in the online space – and by extension, online media in all its forms – it's about time the Nigerian government seriously looks at merging the regulatory organs. By REMMY NWEKE.
Sadly, CBS reporter Lara Logan's sexual assault in Cairo last week is but one instance of a crime that is all too common in Africa. Until Friday, the women of Egypt had found the protests notable for the lack of harassment, but the attack on Logan was a brutal reminder of their daily realities. We can only hope political change in Egypt also brings a change in attitude towards women. By COURTNEY BROOKS.
Having threatened to impose a statutory media appeals tribunal on South Africa – despite global condemnation and in the face of the Constitutional protection of a free media as President Jacob Zuma said in his State of the Nation address – the chief complainant, the ANC, failed even to attend the first hearings of the Press Council on Thursday. By JULIE REID.
Initially, there was relative press freedom in independent Kenya under Jomo Kenyatta – with the emphasis being on “relative” – but the situation deteriorated during the rule Daniel Arap Moi. This continued under the Kibaki administration, and it is only under the new constitution, since August 2010, that the right to media freedom is guaranteed. By ZACHARY OCHIENG.
Freedom of the press is a tricky issue in Liberia, as in most African countries. While it’s assumed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf played a behind-the-scenes role in the release of editor Rodney Sieh from prison, journalists still suffer threats and intimidation - and with election in October this will only increase. A lack of resources is not helping matters either. By MICHAEL KEATING.
In a country that has spent most of its time since independence engaged in warfare – most often with itself – it's no surprise Somalia's media is weak and journalists under attack. Many journalists have fled into exile, and those that remain live in fear. They also have to negotiate being persecuted on two fronts – by Islamists and the government. By AY MOHAMED.
In Nigeria, the National Press Council regulates the press, while the National Broadcasting Commission oversees the broadcast media. Comparing them is a salutary exercise. Nigeria's Freedom of Information Bill – which will provide access to information for journalists – is currently being debated by the Nigerian House. If and when the FoI Bill is signed into law, the organisation that already has systems in place will benefit most from the free flow of information. And yes, that would be the NBC. By REMMY NWEKE.
An essential part of former dictator Hosni Mubarak's strategy was controlling the media. However, over the last decade, access to television stations such as Al Jazeera and to a lesser extent Al Arabiya, not to mention increasing Internet in Egypt, has meant a losing his grip on the media. Now there's a chance for free and independent media to take root. By SIMON ALLISON.
Unsurprisingly, the People’s Republic of China has been extraordinarily uncomfortable with the popular uprising in Egypt. Hosni Mubarak’s 30 years of authoritarianism, suddenly under existential threat, has many a corollary with the Chinese Communist Party. The question is not so much whether this could happen in China—it has, and might well again—but how the Chinese have reacted to it.
The global media's attention is focused on the revolutions sweeping through North Africa and the Middle East, with Egypt – and to a lesser extent Tunisia - being most prominent. But not all revolutions are blessed with this level of attention. The West African nation of Gabon is currently also in popular revolt. What, you haven't heard about it yet? By ETHAN ZUCKERMAN.
Free African Media. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? We think so. Most of all though, we think it must ring true. Sadly, reality's far from the case. In fact, the name has a disturbing undertone – it's not unfair to read it as an oxymoron. On the ground, journalists in Africa find themselves working in overwhelmingly unfree conditions. And the situation is rapidly deteriorating. By THERESA MALLINSON.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has won few supporters around the world – and caused even his allies to begin looking around nervously – in his brutal crackdown on protesters in Tahrir Square since 25 January. Of course, a big part of any attempt to contain a revolution is controlling and censoring the media. Journalists haven't escaped Mubarak's wrath; in fact, they've been specifically targeted. It's a reminder that the fight for political freedom and freedom of expression is a single cause. By THERESA MALLINSON.
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