Constitutional Hill

In defense of the Internet

Which readers of this Blog (whom I assume are mostly relatively well informed) know the names of Mr Sbu Zikode, Mr Mzwakhe Mdlalose,  Ms Bandile Mdlalose, Ms Zandile Nsibande or Mr Zodwa Nsibande? They are, of course the President, Vice President, Secretary General, Chairperson of the Women’s League and Chairperson of the Youth League of Abahlali baseMjondolo, the Durban Shack Dwellers Movement, one of the most influential and vibrant social movements in South Africa who, on its website, describes itself as the largest organization of the militant poor in South Africa.

These are not household names because the leaders of Abahlali baseMjondolo hardly ever appear on SABC TV or radio or ETV and are seldom quoted in the daily serious newspapers (media consumed by the elites of all races). Abahlali is hardly ever quoted exactly because they style themselves as an organization that represents the militant poor in opposition to elites of all races – including the elites who sit in our government and drive in R1 million cars in blue light convoys. These are the very elites who control the SABC, ETV and the printed media and produce news for other elites (like those who write and read this Blog).

Last year when Abahlali leaders and ordinary members were viscously attacked by thugs, allegedly in collusion with members of the police, some newspapers did report on the matter and when it successfully challenged the constitutionality of the apartheid-style Kwa-Zulu/Natal Slums Act it was also reported – scantily – in the media.

But as a general rule, both the ANC-aligned SABC and private independent media have not done a good job of reporting on the actions of this group. What motivates its members? What are the conditions that have produced this organisation representing the interests of the militant poor? What is it that motivates its members and what does the organisation wish to achieve? What does it mean for our democracy? One would be hard pressed to find any reporting or analysis on such pressing questions in our media.

I therefore agree with Steven Friedman that there is something seriously wrong with the way in which our media operates (although I suspect that the problem is even more complex than he suggests). Writing in Business Day, yesterday Friedman pointed out that:

Government attacks on the press have ensured that it is hard to question journalists’ priorities for fear of being seen to encourage censorship. But it should be possible both to defend the press’s right to tell us everything we need to know and to complain that, in the main, it does not tell us — to oppose not only the controls politicians place on papers but those journalists place on themselves….

The problem here is a pack journalism in which some decide what the story is and everyone follows — and reportage which is obsessed with the actions of a few political figures rather than the patterns which may shape where our country is headed; its practitioners are judged by how connected they are to politicians, not by whether they identify trends.

Our media – both the SABC and the independent media – has an inherent bias in favour of process stories focusing on the official political horse races: What happens in Parliament? Which leaders of the alliance are fighting with each other? Does President Jacob Zuma have any chance of being elected to a second term? Is the Alliance a dead horse or will it survive until Jesus comes back? Is Julius Malema’s fortunes rising or falling?

Our media also has ideological and class biases, reflecting the anxieties and the concerns of members of the middle and upper classes and political elites. The way in which the scandalous behaviour by some striking workers were reported recently (by both the SABC and the private media) served certain ideological and class interests. It focused very strongly (but admittedly not exclusively) on these excesses, and this served the ideological and class interests of the rulers. (No ANC leader complained about the way in which the media vilified the strikers, for example.)

Reporting is about making choices: about what to report and what to leave out, about what to highlight and what to underplay, about how to interpret what is being reported and how to structure the narrative of our daily lives in a way that would make often chaotic events understandable to the consumers of news. We have a tendency to want to fit events into a bigger story, a master narrative if you will, and when the media constructs such a narrative they do so to serve certain class and ideological interests.

The South African media is of course not unique in this regard. Noam Chomsky writes in Manufacturing Consent that it is the primary function of the mass media in the United States to mobilise public support for the special interests that dominate the government and the private sector in that country. The same argument could be applied locally.

This does not mean that the ANC proposal for a Media Appeals Tribunal would be a good thing either. Such a tribunal would merely attempt further to narrow the class and ideological focus of the media to prevent reporting that would be damaging to the governing party and those individuals who circle like hyenas around the party bosses in search of influence and money. If the Tribunal is to have any teeth, it would probably be unconstitutional in any case.

What is then to be done?

My answer would be that one has to accept that in a capitalist society with a free media, that media will always be biased in favour of the elites in and outside of government and will advance their interests. Luckily we live in the age of the Internet and with a little effort one can obtain news and analysis with a slightly broader perspective from the “interweb” (as Die Antwoord might say).

When the ANC discussion document talks about a diversification of the media, it does not take cognisance of this fact. If the ANC was really interested in creating a vibrant and ideologically diverse media, it would not pin its hopes on the Gupta-financed newspaper called New Age. Instead, it would focus on the ways in which citizen journalists and members of social movements can use the internet to disseminate news about its activities and ideas which are not often reflected in the mainstream media.

What is needed is a radical programme to make the internet cheaper and more accessible to ordinary people and to provide support for the kind of citizen journalism and analysis that would provide a far broader spectrum of news and ideas than is currently available in the mainstream media? But I guess this is not what the ANC has in mind, as the Internet is an unruly beast that cannot easily be controlled. The last thing the ANC wants is to give the militant poor (to use just one example) a platform that could be used to organise against the party and the government of the day.

But the internet is here to stay and even if the ANC manages to impose a Media Appeals Tribunal to censor the mainstream media, it will soon find out that this will not stop the bad news from coming out. Neither will it stifle dissent from those whom the governing party truly fears: the unemployed and militant poor.

  • http://www.vestact.com Sasha Naryshkine

    Pierre
    First thing, I am a big fan.
    Dead right, avenues for media consumption include social networking sites. But there are still too few South Africans with “interwebs” access. As an urban dweller I have NO idea how the masses in the rural areas consume media.
    Perhaps there is a gap for someone who can provide a text message news service. Unbiased, if there is such a thing, preferably.
    Keep up the good work.
    Regards
    Sasha

  • Chris

    At the moment the press seems to be government’s target no. 1. There are indications that the internet might well be the next target.

    http://fromtheold.com/news/south-africas-government-wants-censor-internet-2010052618223.html

    At this stage they just mention pornography. I predict further censorship will follow soon – anything “not in national interest” will be filtered.

  • Gwebecimele

    By Mercury reporter

    South Africa’s political lexicon is all the richer, courtesy of the country’s leading communists.

    First it was Jeremy Cronin’s “Zanufication” of the ANC under Thabo Mbeki and now, thanks to David Masondo, it’s “ZEE” under Jacob Zuma.

    For Zuma, who was answering questions in the National Assembly on Wednesday, it was a case of “whatz zat? after Cope MP Phillip Dexter borrowed the acronym from Masondo, the Young Communist League chairman.

    Dexter – a former communist at that – asked the president whether family members of leaders of other political parties were also beneficiaries of ZEE.

    “Honourable member, what is CEE?” asked Zuma.

  • Jared Sacks

    Very impressive article. I like the idea of a text-message news service as well…but one that is not-for-profit and where the news is community-generated. But how can one keep this cheap?

    Also, I disagree that the internet is the primary space to broaden the media. 70% of South Africans have no access to internet at all. So the internet will never be a democratic space until all South Africans have access to it.

    Yet, still, the internet is an important medium. For Abahlali and also for other smaller movements like the Mandela Park Backyarders http://www.mpbackyarders.org.za

  • Gwebecimele

    Another oustanding posting.
    Mozambique successfully orgainsed a riot against high prices using text messages, indeed the world is changing. The French might also triumph over the introduction of new retirement policies. Blair ducked eggs, shoes and other objects during the laucnh of his book.

    VIVA BAHLALI BASEMJONDOLO!!!!!!!

  • Illuvatar

    Radio is still number 1…but hopefully we can get the interweb into all our homes or, most likely, cellphones for consumption of independent journalism/analysis.

    We’ve a long a way to go…and a govt controlled MAT has no place in the way forward.

  • http://www.doughnutorbitals.com RLC

    To my mind the biggest problem with internet access here isn’t physical lack of connectivity (though that is widespread) it’s that people who have enough money or even own internet-enabled cell phones don’t know how to use them. I’ve set up email accounts for half the teachers in my school, but surfing the web is still too foreign for them.

    The move toward internet censorship is troubling as China has been pretty successful in that regard, but I am extremely skeptical as to the ANC’s ability to carry out such a project. It would require some serious and committed technical expertise, and dizzying incompetence and sloth seems more the norm for even simple ideas.

  • Illuvatar

    Hi Prof…i thought you may find this article interesting in light of the above post:
    http://opensourcetruth.wordpress.com/2010/08/21/wikileaks-the-global-4th-estate/

    Cheers!

  • Thomas

    I agree that we need freedom to express ourselves but this general notion that freedom of information means freedom to only send bad messages is ridiculous. Do we believe that only bad news or only good news for that matter is freedom of the media? Isn’t freedom of the media the reporting of news? Why is it that we assume that the only news that the media can have is bad news? Aren’t papers/media supposed to report on the news: good and bad?

    If the paragraph is true: “But the internet is here to stay and even if the ANC manages to impose a Media Appeals Tribunal to censor the mainstream media, it will soon find out that this will not stop the bad news from coming out. Neither will it stifle dissent from those whom the governing party truly fears: the unemployed and militant poor”.

    Then why are we worried about the Tribunal in the first place as we will always have avenues to express ourselves.

    If you read the general household survey results you will learn more about what is happening in South Africa: http://us-cdn.creamermedia.co.za/assets/articles/attachments/27436_p0318june2009.pdf

    There is much that needs to be done in South Africa, but there is much that has been done. We must not wear blinkers when reading the news.

  • Brett Nortje

    Anyone have an idea how much it costs to surf the net using pay-as-you-go?

  • http://www.vestact.com Sasha Naryshkine

    Brett,
    I just used these guys for sim management for my iPad, they are excellent:
    http://www.flickswitch.co.za
    They will supply you with a sim without a contract and you can manage your browsing, topping up as you go along.
    Sasha

  • Brett Nortje

    Thanks, Sasha. I have a vodacom phone and they have been irritating the hell out of me for years re-reminding me that my phone is due for upgrade under the contract. Even worse is their appeasing ANC ass-kissing reminders that I have to come in to help violate my constitutional rights by ricaing similar to the banks who ficad our Constitution because they wanted to kiss ANC ass.

    What I am really after is information like what percentage of say, an old-age pension a minute’s pay-as-you-go constitutes and whether web browsing costs the same. I’d really like the same info for Mozambique.

  • Manie Bosman

    Excellent article, Pierre. I don’t know if you’ve read the Times’ Live article “Moz reveals the power of texting” -
    http://www.timeslive.co.za/scitech/article646008.ece/Moz-reveals-the-power-of-texting

  • Gwebecimele

    http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/KZN-taxi-crash-toll-rises-to-6-20100909

    Last week a taxi killed about 9 school kids on their way to school. This week a taxi near Diepsloot killed 6 people and now another in KZN kills six.

    Lets pretend for once that these were small aircrafts crashing and there is no prize for guessing on how fast we would have reacted with regulatory reviews, inquiries, press coverage and possible naming the elite families that are affected. A pilot that has been involved in several incidents may even have their license revoked.

    It is not suprising that some amongst us even compare these incidents to cyclists twisting their ankles or breaking an arm. The way we treat death says enough about us.

    Just like Abahlali, tax commuters are on their own and no amount of lost lives will bring any attention to them. The employment conditions and sharing of revenue in this industry is well known and more will die as taxi drivers maximise the God given 24 hrs. What happened to the taxi Recap Programme ?

  • Zulani

    Brett Nortje says:
    September 9, 2010 at 12:10 pm
    Thanks, Sasha. I have a vodacom phone and they have been irritating the hell out of me for years re-reminding me that my phone is due for upgrade under the contract. Even worse is their appeasing ANC ass-kissing reminders that I have to come in to help violate my constitutional rights by ricaing similar to the banks who ficad our Constitution because they wanted to kiss ANC ass.
    Brett, Brett, Brett. You cant have a Vodacom phone. You have a Vadacom CONTRACT.
    You are actually stupid not to upgrade because you get a NEW phone free every 24 months.
    Unsubscribe is the key word. If you don’t like, you unsubscribe!
    Kry opleiding en rigting man.

  • http://www.theforumsa.co.za Dave A

    ~But the internet is here to stay and even if the ANC manages to impose a Media Appeals Tribunal to censor the mainstream media, it will soon find out that this will not stop the bad news from coming out.~

    Attacking the internet would be next without doubt.

  • http://www.theforumsa.co.za Dave A

    …and text messaging, come to think about it. The critical control points are in much the same hands as the internet.

  • Spuy

    Prof

    You and Prof Friedman are 100% spot on on the media and its elitist bias. I mean – they have this tendency to say “its not news-worthy” and I ask: To who? What is news-worthy to Mathews Phosa; Julius Malema; Helen Zille; Pierre De Vos; Kevin Malunga might NOT neccesarily be news-worthy to Gogo Mathabo; Ntate Nthuloane; Andre Koekemoer living in some rural Free State – Clocolan.

    You would realise that even a simple thing like there is 8 COSATU unions who participated in the public servants strike which has just been “suspended” – Only SADTU, NEHAWU would be mentioned or press releases thereof would be qouted in both the print in brodcast media. Being part of these smaller (notworth-mentioning unions) I found it very hurtful because we were also releasing press releases from time to time but no one would bother giving us any publicity – Not even stupid, cheap local news papers.

    Hence I have absolutely no sympathy for the media when its OBSESSION – the ANC and everything about it – wants to regulate it. The media is anti-poor just like the leaders (of the ANC) at times. They can both go to hell as far as I m concerned.

  • John Roberts

    The internet is here to stay ?

    How profoundly insightful.

    And silly old me thought Sherlock Holmes was dead.

  • Peter John

    “What is needed is a radical programme to make the internet cheaper and more accessible to ordinary people and to provide support for the kind of citizen journalism and analysis that would provide a far broader spectrum of news and ideas than is currently available in the mainstream media”

    “But the internet is here to stay and even if the ANC manages to impose a Media Appeals Tribunal to censor the mainstream media, it will soon find out that this will not stop the bad news from coming out. Neither will it stifle dissent from those whom the governing party truly fears: the unemployed and militant poor.”

    Hear, hear!

    “viscously attacked by thugs” :-) :-)

  • Peter John

    Let me add this: Access to easy and cheap electronic communications will do more to bring genuine democracy, stability, growth and opportunities to our state (and indeed Africa) than probably any other factor ever will.

  • Brett Nortje

    Zulani, you might have missed that I specifically do not want to become part (any more than I can help – captive market) of the cellphone cult that saw a couple of the politically connected become billionaires overnight by charging the poor and Telkom-underserviced the highest pay-as-you-go rates in the world. A pox on all their houses. Pay-as-you-go is like the Lotto – a direct tax on the poor.

    Gwebecimele, what do you suggest be done about the taxis – with so many people reliant upon them?

    Remember how PW Botha pandered to the taxi industry by deregulating it? Even he realised what a massive role taxi transport was going to pay in people’s lives.

    A good solution is cheap public transport – but wait, didn’t the taxi industry shut BRT down by shooting up their busses?
    Nice. Every BRT station protected by Theta security.

    Another thing the ANC stuffed up. Allowing taxi-organisations to behave like the Cali drug cartel.

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Brett Nortje says:
    September 9, 2010 at 16:21 pm

    Hey Brett,

    “a couple of the politically connected become billionaires overnight by charging the poor and Telkom-underserviced the highest pay-as-you-go rates in the world”.

    Here’s an interesting bit on how technology, efficiently rolled out, can help build the nation.

    Low-tech solutions connecting India’s farmers

    Sathe said the information he gets on his slower 2G network already helps him grow a better crop and earn more money.

    Ravinder Bhaskar Dheeple, another local farmer in Nashik district who is involved in the water sprinkler project, said the system saves him time, money and manpower.

    But farmers now want even more tailored services, including international market prices for local grape producers who sell to exporters, said Subash Kodme at the farmers’ co-operative in Chandori village.

    http://www.ioltechnology.co.za/article_page.php?iArticleId=5636360&iSectionId=2884

  • Brett Nortje

    Remember the story about the cheap Indian laptops Gwebecimele dug up a couple of weeks ago?

    A dirt poor country with huge inequality that mad up its collective mind to become a winning nation.

  • Brett Nortje

    Damn! Typo: ‘made’

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Brett Nortje says:
    September 9, 2010 at 18:29 pm

    I don’t think India is a dirt poor country at all. They may well have a sizable population that are among the poorest in the world, but they also have many who are among the world’s richest.

    That aside our nation’s progress is certainly retarded by the interests of the rich and powerful – it’s hard not to conclude that the policies have been developed to protect their interests not by their competitive edge and innovation by by brutal exploitation of the most vulnerable in our country.

    Michael Osborne raised it best : “Why does a party that promulgated a Freedom Charter promising massive redistribution run this country in a way that favours the interests of rich and middle class white people, plus, not incidentally, a small group of BEE and affirmative action beneficiaries, politicians and tenderpreneurs?” (http://constitutionallyspeaking.co.za/cutting-and-pasting-judicial-decisions/ : September 8, 2010 at 14:15 pm)

  • Samantha

    In light of Maggs’ comment above, I think you might find the following interesting:

    ANC businessmen going on govt junkets- DA
    Athol Trollip
    09 September 2010

    Athol Trollip says members of Progressive Business Forum accompanied state officials on trips abroad

    Party and State: DA probes PBF’s participation in state visits

    Yesterday in Parliament, it was revealed that members of the ANC’s so-called Progressive Business Forum (PBF) accompanied the South Africa government delegation on various state visits since the beginning of the Zuma administration. The ANC has long tried to defend its dubious practice of selling time with government ministers, an operation managed by the party’s PBF. This most recent revelation illustrates the ANC’s rewarding of political and financial patronage by affording PBF members prized places in South African trade delegations- an indisputable conflation of party and state.

    So brazen is the ANC about this practice, that the PBF website lists participation “in international trade delegations and seminars/exhibitions” as one of the benefits available to paid-up members. In addition, it has been alleged that the PBF is operating from the Parliamentary precinct, which is publicly-funded and should under no circumstances be used for party political purposes. Such conduct is indicative of the ANC’s unashamed use state resources to further entrench its power and reward political loyalty.

    In response to the information revealed in Parliament yesterday, the Democratic Alliance (DA) will be submitting a series of questions to the President concerning the participation of PBF members in state visits undertaken since he assumed power, namely those to Russia, India, China and the UK.

    This most recent example is the latest in a long line of incidents, such as the Chancellor House/Hitachi debacle, in which the ANC has, each time without fail, chosen party interests over principle. While the activities of the PBF may not be illegal, they border on immoral and unethical. The use of state resources to generate funding for the ANC undermines the most basic principles of good governance and confirms that the ruling party’s loyalty lies with those who support it – politically, financially and otherwise – rather than those it was elected to serve.

    http://www.politicsweb.co.za/politicsweb/view/politicsweb/en/page71654?oid=198108&sn=Detail&pid=71616

  • Brett Nortje

    Well, because running this country in a way that favours the interests of rich and middle class white people happens to co-incide comparatively with best macro-economic practice across the world?

    Besides which – as I happen to have pointed out before – Michael’s prejudices are hardly based in fact when you consider that highest income per capita in Gauteng (our richest province) happens to go to persons of the Indian persuasion???

  • marco polo

    “Luckily we live in the age of the Internet and with a little effort one can obtain news and analysis with a slightly broader perspective from the “interweb” (as Die Antwoord might say).”
    Luckily, we do. Indeed, there is a wider world beyond that propagated by our liberal-left (white suburban division) media and the academic drones who populate their “opinion” pages.

  • sirjay jonson

    Samantha: “…they border on immoral and unethical.” I only disagree with the descriptive ‘border on’. More accurately stated: It is immoral and unethical.

    As for nternet and telecommunications; there is a concerted effort world wide to control it. This freedom may not be as invincible as we may think.

    There are many things and privileges in life and society which can be lost. It happens. We do not know the future but by the present.

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Samantha says:
    September 9, 2010 at 19:50 pm

    It’s interesting that which was supposed to be the developmental state now seems to crawl in the shadow of as Cosatu terms it, the predator state.

    ‘Economic freedom is still a pipe dream’

    “Our ANC government is not moving swiftly enough to address inequality and injustices. It has been more than two years after the watershed Polokwane conference, which pronounced on economic policies…but nothing much has happened on the policy front in government.” he said at the East London funeral service of former union president Mthuthuzeli Tom.

    “Economic freedom is still a pipe dream for many South Africans. It is really unfortunate and sad that 16 years into democracy, we have not begun to have a clear path to economic freedom for our people.”

    http://www.iol.co.za/news/politics/economic-freedom-is-still-a-pipe-dream-1.679616

    Corruption and nepotism fuel municipal protests: MPs

    A special parliamentary committee says corruption, political infighting and nepotism are among the causes of service delivery protests around the country and proposes a timetable for interventions to ease the dissatisfaction that fuels the violence.

    “It is not only local government that needs a turnaround, but the whole system of government needs a turnaround,” the committee, which is heavily dominated by ANC members, says in a 76-page report to parliament.

    http://www.timeslive.co.za/incoming/article650594.ece/Corruption-and-nepotism-fuel-municipal-protests–MPs

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    And then there’s

    Sandile Kuboni, the |38-year-old Durban lawyer who allegedly laundered a R1-million donation to the ANC through his trust account, appears to be involved in big business dealings with the government and is a director of a company that boasts receiving over R600m worth of government tenders.

    http://www.iol.co.za/news/politics/meet-the-man-at-the-centre-of-r1m-donation-1.674310

    at 11:47AM 1 Revelations of a cosy relationship between the country’s former deputy national police commissioner, Hamilton Hlela, and a company that won major tenders worth billions from the SA Police Service have emerged. During a meeting this week with the National Assembly’s committee on police, national commissioner , General Bheki Cele and his top brass painted a picture of the Midway Two group featuring in virtually every major police procurement deal.

    http://timessaguardian.com/south-africa-hlela-s-dodgy-dealings-emerge-page-1-of-2-64305.htm

  • eagleowl

    Sorry for the long insert but the para re cellphones is topical, while the whole is relevant. This comes from the Moneyweb site
    http://www.moneyweb.co.za/mw/view/mw/en/page292675?oid=504237&sn=2009%20Detail

    Letters from Zimbabwe
    Cathy Buckle
    05 September 2010 06:40
    What’s going on?

    What is it that the Zimbabwe government doesn’t want us to know, asks Cathy Buckle.

    It’s been a long time since the news broadcasts on Short Wave Radio Africa have been deliberately jammed by loud, repetitive electronic noises but suddenly, alarmingly, its back.

    The jamming of SW Radio Africa began at 7.20pm on the night of the 1st September 2010. The news bulletin was by then more than two thirds completed and a report on the need for extra funding for the constitutional outreach programme was just about to be aired. A loud interference broke into the broadcast, the repeated tones continuing until 8.00 pm, making it impossible to hear the remainder of the news reports or the following half hour programme.

    Suspicions were immediately raised and the automatic question is: What s going on? What is it that the Zimbabwe government doesn t want us to know?

    Its been over ten years since the fight for political dominance in Zimbabwe destroyed agriculture and business, chased 4 million people out of the country and turned our lives upside down; ten years during which we all learned what signals to look out for when something is up. The jamming of SW Radio Africa is one of those very clear signs and eyebrows are up.

    You would think that that with the explosion of cell phone lines in the country and the return of an independent daily newspaper there wouldn t be a need for radio jamming anymore, but that s not the case. For the vast majority of Zimbabweans a newspaper is a luxury; computers, emails and internet access are a remote dream and sitting listening to a short wave radio station for two hours a night is the only way to get information that s not blatant propaganda.

    So what is that they don’t want us to know?

    Could it be the news that a Bulawayo artist is facing charges with a 20 year prison term for an art exhibition?

    Or the fact that the former education minister and Mashonaland East Governor is in a renewed land grab on the few remaining farms in and around Marondera ?

    Perhaps it’s the continuing reports of intimidation and harassment surrounding the constitutional outreach programme.

    Maybe it s the 24 point document outlining action to be taken to apparently resolve issues outstanding from the tri party political agreement – issues which are 18 months overdue.

    Or maybe, the jamming of SW Radio Africa is being done so that we can’t hear the voices of ordinary people trying to live ordinary lives in a country where fear, intimidation and harassment are still all around us all the time and the only real change we see from our huge government is food in our shops.

    When SW Radio Africa asked MDC Information minister Nelson Chamisa what was behind the radio jamming, Mr Chamisa said he didn’t know the station was being jammed. His response was a mirror image of MDC co Home Affairs minister Theresa Makone, When asked about the arrest and detention of a Bulawayo artist, Mrs Makone said she didn’t know about it. How soon they ve forgotten that SW Radio Africa was their only voice before they got into Zimbabwe s massive government a voice they don’t listen to anymore?

    Ironically the jamming of SW Radio Africa doesn’t make less people listen to the broadcasts, but exactly the reverse because now even more people want to know what the government are trying to hide.

  • eagleowl

    Gwebecimele says:
    September 9, 2010 at 13:05 pm

    Gwebs – I live very close to the Blackheath (CT) level crossing where 10, not 9, pupils died. Our local free paper TYGERburger reports that Metrorail has now placed guards on duty at the crossing, who indicate to drivers to stop when a train approaches. This crossing already has booms which come down and close the road and flashing lights as warnings. I can testify that that the trains also sound their sirens on approach to the level crossing. (In fact, for a long time before approaching that crossing, as there are a couple of kilometres of track which lacks fencing – stolen).

    It is alleged by survivors and witnesses that the driver of the taxi involved overtook several vehicles and dodged the booms to cross the lines, and that this was habitual behavior of his. And that many drivers regularly cross the line in face of oncoming trains despite ALL the warnings. Metrorail claims that these particular booms have been replaced 27 times this year following damage by motorists!!

    The locals have asked for the guards to be on permanent duty.

    What difference will permanent guards make when all the other precautions are deliberately ignored?

    The problem lies in the lawless behaviour of the drivers, who will continue to disregard the law until it is ENFORCED. Our Government apparently lacks the will to protect the poorest and most innocent by enforcing the rules of the road. Watch them, they will soon be introducing a Bill aimed at reducing deaths on level crossings!

    I’m afraid Brett is right “Another thing the ANC stuffed up. Allowing taxi-organisations to behave like the Cali drug cartel.”

  • Siyabonga

    With regard to the accident that took place and resulted in 10 children being killed, I think that it would be unwise of the legal system to let the perpetrator off. In a couple of weeks, it was stated that the driver of that taxi was very traumatised and needed therapy, however, that does not excuse what he did or mean that he must be let go. In pretty much everyday, taxi drivers are not the people that we can call, they are careful everytime; not a day passes-by without me complaining about the way they drive. I must however emphasise that not all of the drive negligently.

  • Siyabonga

    The regulation of the media has been quite a heavy topic lately. What I do not understnd about it is what would this new bill achieve? Many people have stated their objections to it but still the government is determined to go through with it regardless of what the South Africans are saying. Is the government that afraid of what the media might expose, it does not make any sense. Freedom of speech was one of the crucial rights found in chapter two of the constitution which many people died trying to fight for it and that should be respected.

  • Brett Nortje

    I can remember diving into the gutter while walking past the taxi rank below Ellis Park because I heard a slide being pulled back.

    A taxi driver was pointing a brand new CZ75 at my back. His buddy was giving him gun handling lessons.

    Taxi bosses are regularly assissinated, the public are machine-gunned while riding in BRT busses…

    So, what does your average taxi-driver feel for a level crossing?

    A culture of impunity. Does it surprise anyone that young lives are wasted with impunity?

  • Siyabonga

    Hi Brett, that is my point exactly, but the question is how do we make sure as I am studying law; that they are more responsible when they are on the road.

  • abidam

    Guess who

    At Thursday’s press conference, he seemed to step it up a little: his quote of the day was about property rights, the property clause in the Constitution to be exact. He went on and on about how it happened that the Constitution was a negotiated settlement, and then out it came, “It was a negotiation, we give something, you give something, and the boers, they went for it, but we’re in charge now, and this is not a negotiated democracy any more”. In other words, it’s time to take the mlungu’s land.

    And when he’s asked directly if he just means farmland, well, off he goes again: “It’s any land, if it’s commercial and it’s for the good of the people, we must take it. If it’s on the beachfront in Cape Town, we must take it.”

    http://www.thedailymaverick.co.za/article/2010-09-10-malema-hates-the-rand-but-loves-the-land-anybodys-land

  • Brett Nortje

    Thank goodness Juju is too stupid for much artfulness.

    I agree with him – we were conned! Where is the modus vivendi?

  • Brett Nortje

    Randomly snipped:

    Malema threat to Zuma over nationalisation
    ‘Support youth league’s stance or face the prospect of a one-term presidency’
    SIBONGAKONKE SHOBA
    Published: 2010/09/10 06:45:05 AM

    AFRICAN National Congress (ANC) Youth League president Julius Malema has given President Jacob Zuma an ultimatum: support the league’s call to nationalise mines — or lose its backing for a second term in office.

    http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/Content.aspx?id=120624

    The league’s proposals include amending the property clause in the constitution. It wants the government to be able to expropriate private property at non- negotiable prices.

    “Where there is land for settlement, let’s have that land for our people to settle. We need a government that will say ‘we are going to take this land and we will determine the price. Take it or leave it’,” Mr Malema said

  • Gwebecimele

    The only solution is to regulate the taxi industry exactly the way we do with aviation. All deaths and accidents must be treated the same irrespective of mode of transport.
    The elite have insurances (private, employer and airlines) that cover them in these instances whilst the poor are being robbed by lawyers and the RAF. Bread winners are dying, leaving behind missery and unsupported families. Young lives are shortened or left with disabilities, loss of income and huge health bills. Why are we not using fuel levies, taxi license and tax taxi manufacturers to fund this careless killing of the poor. I have no doubt that would lead to safer taxis being manufactured and better behaviour on the road.

    The absence of a proper transport plan that covers rail, road, air, water is a shame. Instead the focus is on tolling the roads to collect revenue that is not invested back in the infrastructure.
    http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/74-killed-in-recent-taxi-crashes-20100909

  • Brett Nortje

    http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/Content.aspx?id=120640

    ITUMELENG MAHABANE: ANC blinded by its fixation with market failure
    ‘Milton Friedman was an idiot. John Maynard Keynes matters. Joseph Schumpeter is indispensable’

    Published: 2010/09/10 07:16:28 AM

    THE African National Congress’s (ANC’s) conception of market failure informs most of its policy thinking, from the rational to the less considered, from broad-based black economic empowerment to national health insurance. Which is not to suggest that the two examples have any bearing on rationality and consideration.

    The ANC’s construction of market failure as the departure point of economic policy is that the country’s “skewed pattern of ownership and production” distorts capital allocation. Only market fundamentalists would argue that SA’s markets operate optimally. Nevertheless, after 15 years of policy aimed at dealing with market failure, we have made, at best, marginal progress in terms of economic development. Worse, over the past two years the growth gap between SA and its peers has been widening.

    Relative to our peers, our capacity to deal with the challenges of poverty and economic exclusion is diminishing. Yet, over the course of the past 18 months, while Parliament has considered a number of bills, few have dealt with matters economic. Perhaps, without denying the challenge of market failure, it is time to consider whether there is another problem — state or public failure.

    There is a strong argument that SA’s core economic development problems stem from the state’s failure to efficiently allocate resources and effectively administer the provision of goods and services within its control. The level of poor labour utilisation points to public and state failure, not the inefficiency of markets.

    Some might argue that it is too harsh to talk of state failure. Social grants make up as much as 50% of household income for more than 50% of the population. So without state intervention, poverty would be even worse. But 9-million people cannot continue to rely on the taxes of 3-million people. Social welfare is not a solution and not evidence of an effective state.

    It is, of course, somewhat of a sweeping statement to suggest that we have had 15 years of policy centred on market failure. Many would argue that the Growth, Employment and Redistribution (Gear) policy was quite the opposite. That Gear, in fact, entrenched market failure. That our crumbling infrastructure stems directly from the austerity of those years. That the inability to manage public capital expenditure is directly related to the fact that any capacity that existed was obliterated during those years.

    Even if true, it would still not negate the question of general capacity in policy architecture. After all, it is something of a constant given the political monopoly that characterises SA. By its own admission, the current ANC leadership considers even the supposedly neoliberal administration of Thabo Mbeki to have had an activist agenda with developmental inclinations.

    The key to market efficiency is responsiveness. Even profoundly flawed markets are relatively dynamic. The same cannot be said of our policy- and decision-making architecture. For all the robustness of the ANC’s discussion culture, the process of decision making is static. Worse, it operates blindly, with far too little information to constructively play the active role it seeks in economic organisation. Whether through actual policies and strategies or through lack of policy and strategy, the ANC has demonstrated considerable capacity limitations (intellectual and physical). As a result, state failure has become the biggest contributor to static economic development.

    This is not a criticism of the ANC but a critique of the status quo . The intent is to help us think through the questions we need to ask ourselves if we are to build a broadly prosperous and functional country.

    The global financial crisis accelerated growing understanding of modern economic theory. Here are three things that we know about the world today. Milton Friedman was an idiot. John Maynard Keynes matters. Joseph Schumpeter is indispensable. This bears relevance. For even in the paradigm of the ANC’s beloved developmental state prescription, enterprises are central, mixed economies are key, and pragmatism over ideology is what drives heterodox economics (the theoretical framework for developmental state ideology).

    If we accept this, we are faced with two questions: in SA, what is the bigger threat to building shared growth — state failure or market failure? For some, this may not be an either/or question. Yet for those genuinely interested in building a prosperous and functional country, the starting point may be to ask: what is the role of the public sector and what is its capacity to deliver on that role?

    It is a pity this is not a central agenda of the ANC’s policy conference. Perhaps there are other forums in which we might start pushing the question. After all, it is a matter for all citizens and stakeholders.

    - Mahabane is a partner at Brunswick, a financial communications firm. He writes in his personal capacity.

  • Brett Nortje

    I agree 100%, Gwebecimele!

    All over the country, traffic cops regard today as feast day. Coffee and Kentucky money for the weekend.

    That is the place to start. Prosecute the Metro cops that were involved in a shoot-out with the SAPS on the M2 over a labour dispute. Make a good example of them.

  • Gwebecimele

    @ PdV, Maggs ad others.

    I have noted your “Quote of the week”, if there is any truth in that then we are in TROUBLE.

  • Tracy

    Really interesting article – thanks. As much as I hate to admit it, the government’s proposed reforms have stimulated a lot of good debate about the role and control of media in South African society. I would love to hear more about Abahlali baseMjondolo and similar organisations in mainstream media, and I’m sure there are many other ‘elitists’ who feel the same way. I’m just not sure whether public demand does in fact lead to reporting on these issues, considering those in ultimate control of the mass media.

    I personally feel that the blame needs to be shouldered by us for problems in reporting standards in this country. I would like to see the State funding alternative newspapers representing the poor, but aimed at all levels of society. Unfortunately I don’t believe that the internet is the answer – I can’t imagine a more elite mode of information transfer. Even in 10 years, I doubt everyone in this country will have access to the internet ,when there will still be people starving in shacks.

  • Siyabonga

    Malema
    Mr. Malema seems not to realize that even though now everyone is free and is entitled to land, there is still a long way to go in order to give all people of colour land. The fact is this, most people of colour do not have the knowledge when it comes to land and therefore, by giving them all the land; there would be much more problem created. The reason why I am saying this is because many lands that were given to the people of colour have become worthless simply because they are not being used properly.

    In order for Malema to say that they should take most of the land and claim it; it does not have common sense. People first needs to be educated on how to test the soil in order to have a knowledge of what that particular soil needs to be cultivated.

    Times have changed, it is not like old days when people were farming and everything would be okay. Times are tough and people need to have surpluses in order to be able to sell in an open market so as to feed their children and raise their standard of living.

  • Darryll Robinson

    The Abahlali baseMjondolo movement to which you refer, Prof is highlighted in Raj Patel’s book, The Value of Nothing. It makes for a very interesting read.

    http://rajpatel.org/2009/10/27/the-value-of-nothing/
    http://www.amazon.com/Value-Nothing-Reshape-Redefine-Democracy/dp/031242924X

  • Gwebecimele

    ALL TALK NO ACTION

    Road accidents ‘drain SA of youth’
    2010-09-10 14:32

    Related Links
    An industry in need of change
    74 killed in recent taxi crashes
    Matric dies after crashing dad’s car
    Taxi drivers held for bad driving
    Taxi kills teen on scooter
    Another schoolbus taxi accident
    Girl, 4, killed by taxi
    Man, baby killed in taxi crash

    Johannesburg – The pain felt by parents after losing children in road accidents reflects the anguish of a nation busy “eating” its most productive and energetic people, Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said on Friday.

    “This Wednesday alone 21 people were killed in minibus taxi-related road crashes,” Ndebele said at the National Traffic Safety Summit in Boksburg, Johannesburg.

    He said the deaths of 10 children in a Blackheath, near Cape Town, last month, when a train struck a minibus at a level crossing, was a tragedy.

    “In developed countries, the death of 10 people in a single accident is a national tragedy. When those who are killed are children and youth it is that much more painful.”

    Road accidents did not happen, they were caused.

    “Road deaths can be stopped, they are preventable deaths.”

    It was the duty of all South African to ensure safety on the roads everyone.

    “Accident victims are in urban and rural areas, they are in townships and in suburbs.”

  • Gwebecimele
  • Samantha

    One of the defences the ANC uses to promote the MAT, is that poor people do not have recourse to defamation actions because they can’t afford the lawyers. I would be interested to know how many people who are really poor have needed to defend their names after inaccurate reporting has been done?

    If we are to believe the Prof and others here, not much is reported on the poor because they are not newsworthy. So, how then will MAT benefit the poor, who feature so rarely in the print media?

  • Samantha

    I have just read Zuma’s defence of the PoIB.

    One of the things he states as a positive is that people who want access to information that is classified can petition the courts for this. And yet, the defence of the MAT is that poor people cannot afford to litigate. How is it okay to curtail the freedom of the press because poor people cannot afford lawyers, but it is also okay to expect poor people to find lawyers to gain access to classified documents?

    He also states that they are using the Bill to promote openness. I fail to see how you create openness by increasing secrecy.

    http://www.politicsweb.co.za/politicsweb/view/politicsweb/en/page71654?oid=198326&sn=Detail&pid=71616

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Samantha says:
    September 10, 2010 at 17:42 pm

    Samantha.

    “And yet, the defence of the MAT is that poor people cannot afford to litigate.”

    And you truly believe that is the reason for a MAT controlled by parliament?

  • Brett Nortje
  • Samantha

    @ Maggs,

    I didn’t say I believe it, I said that is what they are using in defence of it. That is what Zuma said in Parliament in defence of it!

    Which is why I pointed out the hypocrisy of the two different statements.

  • Brett Nortje

    Maggs is oblivious to the implications of what he is stating: That it is ridiculous to take the ANC leadership at their viva voce.

    That says a lot about the moral bankruptcy of the ANC and the people who cheerlead for it.

  • Ewald

    Thanks Brett, that’s very good. Weeping – A Tribute to Those Who Have Been Lied To — you may find that worth watching too http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L79PkLO2CJg&feature=related

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Samantha says:
    September 10, 2010 at 22:11 pm

    Hey Sam,

    Glad that you don’t accept that the MAT as proposed is in defence of poor people.

    The media certainly need a better watchdog – one with more teeth than parliament has over the executive.

    But I strongly suspect that they hype is related directly to the revelations of the exposure of the extent to which the state is being turned into a “predator state” as Cosatu calls it.

  • Michael Osborne

    @ Maggs

    “The media certainly need a better watchdog – one with more teeth than parliament has over the executive.”

    Please explain briefly (a) what is wrong with the Press Council as currently configured; (b) what would you do to improve it.

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Michael Osborne says:
    September 11, 2010 at 14:03 pm

    Hey Michael,

    I would not improve the Press Council.

    The better option is to scrap it entirely and replace it with something similar to the UKs Press Complaints Commission.

    A free press is as important to the strengthening and deepening of democracy as is government, parliament and the judiciary.

    A free press to my mind is one that will ensure that publications are beyond reproach and where it isn’t the strongest action is taken.

    One thing I would like to see is a proactive interventions by whatever body is to replace it, not just when individuals complain about bad reporting.

    I would like, for example, to be assured that the billboards and headlines are, as the wise among us put it, “reasonably, probably true”.

  • Brett Nortje

    Hey, Ewald, don’t thank me yet – I posted the link to make a point. You might not like the point.

    That is version 2 of a song that always chokes me up. I think we are ready for ‘Weeping 3.0′. A video featuring a service delivery protest or two, 300000 plus South Africans murdered, and a Minister for Safety and Security who tells people if they do not like that they can simply leave, and a President who out of stubborn ego does nothing while 6m of his countrymen are infected with HIV.

  • Michael Osborne

    @ Maggs

    1. When you say what is published in the press must be, “beyond reproach” what do you mean? Not provable as in maths, I assume. So what standard then? Enough to stand up in a court of law? Courts can take months to determine facts on a balance of probabilities. Can you imagine every claimed “fact” in every paper being subject to that test?

    2. If you have ever worked in a newsroom. with 2 hours to deadline, and having to make judgment calls about the credibility of multiple sources, you will know how utterly impossible that would be in practice.

    2. You mention the British system favourably. Have you seen the Sun and News of the World? How exactly does the UK system restrain these rags?

    3. You advocate the “strongest measures”. Like what? What would you do about a publication like Noseweek? Jail Martin Weltz? Much of what he published in unprovable. Yet he does us all a service, in the sense that, say, 15% of his stories is true, stuff that no more respectable source will touch.

    4. Do you think that, for example, Pierre’s blog, and the internet generally, should also be “beyond reproach” in its factual claims? What would that mean, exactly?

    5. Do you object to the press being able to say “X alleges Y about Z” – and giving Z an opportunity to rebut?

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Michael Osborne says:
    September 11, 2010 at 15:16 pm

    Hey Michael,

    There’s these pamphlets which are distributed at various street corners in which the Doctors and Professors claim to be able to let you see the face of your enemies in the mirror, get you the winning lotto numbers, stop you partner from committing adultery and so on and so forth.

    There’s all kinds of interesting stuff printed, not all of it that will have a serious impact on society – if the tokoloshe kidnapped someone’s girlfriend there may well be a lot of interested readers as there will be if Akon visits Earth again to go to his mothers graveside.

    It’s highly unlikely that the proposed MAT would bother much about them. Nor will, I suspect, the ASA bother.

    So if we confine ourselves to mainstream print media which are influential then that smart people’s term, reasonably probably true, has a wonderful resonance.

    If you’re looking for absolutes, then I plead no contest – even maths would not meet the test of absolute proof, especially given the whole host of assumptions that would have to go to even the most elementary of questions.

    The measures would have to be determined by whatever structure or body is set up as the media are now trying to establish now – I hope that there will be sufficient measures in place so that ordinary people like me will be able to rely on the billboards and headlines.

    The issue of Pierre’s blog is an excellent one – matters of fact or opinion are constantly challenged right here with very little escaping scrutiny even if that happens a long time afterward.

    Re X, Y an Z it would depend on context – so difficult to respond to.

  • Brett Nortje

    http://www.news24.com/Africa/News/FXI-slams-Mozambique-SMS-shutdown-20100911

    FXI slams Mozambique SMS ‘shutdown’
    2010-09-11 22:35

    Related Links
    Moz ‘blocked SMSes after riots’
    Police arrest 148 after Moz riots
    Moz govt reverses bread price hike

    Maputo – Vodacom Mozambique had violated Mozambicans’ rights if reports were true that the cellphone operator obeyed a government order to shut down SMSing services to clients, the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) said on Saturday.

    “If these allegations are proven to be true that the (Mozambican) state national communications authority ordered the shut down of text messaging, then we would certainly regard that as an infringement of both Mozambican citizens’ rights to freedom of expression, FXI executive director Ayesha Kajee told Sapa.

    “Particularly following on the events of last week and the past few weeks where viral messages campaigns have been instrumental in mobilising people to protest.

    “Since Vodacom South Africa operates under the terms of South African law and the South African constitution, one would expect in the interest of best practise that their operations in other countries would adhere to similar standards as they do in South Africa and uphold people’s basic rights,” said Kajee.

    Independent news sheet Mediafax on Friday reported Mozambique’s telecommunications regulator sent a letter to Vodacom Mozambique and state operator mCel last Monday ordering them to suspend SMSing facilites for clients.

    Riots

    The order was sent after a widespread viral SMS campaign fuelled three days of food riots at the start of September which killed 13.

    Pay-as-you-go customers, the bulk of cellphone users in the country, could not send SMSes from Monday to Thursday. Contract customers could still send SMSes after negotiations between the operators and authorities, according to Mediafax.

    Mozambican Communications Minister Paulo Zucula denied any orders were given to suspend SMS functions, while mCel declined to comment.

    Neither Vodacom Mozambique nor Vodacom South Africa responded to enquiries by Sapa.

    Mobile telecommunications revolutionised communications in Africa, especially in remote and underdeveloped areas, said Kajee.

    “For the first time many people in the remote parts of the continent and underdeveloped areas of the world generally are able to access telecommunication fairly cheaply and without having to wait for expensive landline infrastructure.”

    “It has revolutionised many aspects of people’s lives, not least their ability to mobilise one another around specific political, civil and economic issues,” she continued.

    “Because we feel very strongly that freedom of expression is a facilitative right, any limitations, particularly state limitations, on freedom of expression, we view in a very serious light, because we do feel it shuts down people’s ability to access rights.”

    - SAPA

  • Michael Osborne

    @ Maggs

    “The measures would have to be determined by whatever structure or body is set up as the media are now trying to establish”

    No Maggs, is of little help. You say that the current system is no good. Please tell me what standard you propose as an alternative to the current Press Code. What degree of factual certainty do you demand in textual reports, or in banner headlines? You earlier said the press should be “beyond reproach.” What does that mean, exactly?

    I take it that you are saying The Sun etc. are in a different league, no one takes them seriously anyway. I am not sure this is true; I suspect that many people take the tabloids more seriously as a source of info that the M&G or the SI. Or are you suggesting a two-tier system? If so, then, if I edited the M&G I would simply relegate the newspaper to the second league, and keep on exactly as before. What then?

    Also, please respond to my question re what precisely the new system you have in mind would do about Noseweek, a magazine that angers many wealthy and powerful people with its muckraking.

    Also, I am not clear on your views re comments on this blog. Are you saying that bloggers like Pierre should be held to a lesser standard than the printed media? I do not see why that is so – especially since in a few years time the mainstream press will be mostly online anyway.

    I would like you to look hard at the current Code, and its enforcement machinery, and spell out what you think should change, and how that would affect the M&G, blogs and Noseweek.

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Michael Osborne says:
    September 12, 2010 at 0:29 am

    Hey Michael,

    If you are asking that I write the entire framework for what would be a better approach to the oversight of the print media, it’s not going to happen.

    I have proposed, several times, what I think is a better alternative – that is the UKs PCC.

    Factual certainty is an extremely difficult concept – as I said, several times, “reasonably, probably true” will do it for me. If it was not clear from my earlier comments then I will add that there are, in my view, no absolutes.

    Maybe many people take the Sun etc seriously as do people who take the mystic Doctor seriously as do people who take the start foretell seriously. I am sure they will find a way of interrogating reports of the snake that saved lives of people trapped in the forest if they need to.

    As with everything else, nothing is fool proof – it’s kinda like suggesting that unless we have to find a way of ensuring that every single vehicle at no time exceeds the max of 120 km/h on national roads, the limits are not worth applying.

    I have no issue with Noseweek or with people being angered, rather the opposite. I don’t find the articles, as you term it, muckraking. The standard is not whether people get angered but whether the reports are “reasonably, possibly true”. If people get angered because what was published is false then their anger is justified, but if they get angered because they did not want to b exposed then too bad for them.

    It’s not clear how you concluded that I in any way suggested that bloggers like Pierre should be held to a lesser standard. I did make the point that Pierre is more open to engagement on unfair or incorrect comments. And the very fact that there are the open ended comments section is far more than we have seen from any of the print media. In any event I have not personally come across anything that Pierre may have blogged that is deliberately misleading or knowingly untrue. He has frequently been, in my opinion, deliberately offensive or provocative but that’s another matter.

  • Michael Osborne

    @ Maggs

    Maggs, I note that, in your second iteration, “reasonably, probably true” becomes “reasonably, possibly” true. Which is it?

    Whichever standard you apply, how does it differ from the standard applied by our current Press Council? It seems to me that, like many critics of the status quo, you have not looked closely at the current code, both on the substantive and procedural level, and specified what provisions you think are faulty.

    Other points:

    1. I still do not fully understand what you are saying about the gutter press, both here or in the UK. Is it that the Sun need not be held to the same high standard (“beyond reproach, to use your initial formulation),” as the Guardian?

    2. I do not think that two-tier system would make much sense. Would one apply to have one’s newspaper labelled a “serious publication?” What if muckrakers simply opt-out, and carry on as before?

    3. Regarding blogs, are you saying that Pierre should be held to the same “reasonably, possibly true” standards as the press?

    4. What do you think should be done with editors or bloggers who repeatedly published material that is not “reasonably, probably” true.

    5. Do you disagree with the standards for defamation that have been set down by the Const Court in cases like Bogoshi and Holomisa?

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Michael Osborne says:
    September 12, 2010 at 11:56 am

    LOL!

    Choose either or one or neither of possibly/probably. To me both convey the same general meaning in the context.

    Whether there is a press code as well as its substantive and procedural intent is not the issue. I am confident, for example, that it is illegal for traffic cops to demand bribes and that is probably written into law somewhere – it means zilch to drivers who get apprehended and have bribes demanded from them.

    Beyond that which I have already said, the press itself is gearing up for better “self-regulation” conceding that what they have is inadequate – that’s a good enough starting point for me to accept that what we have is not adequate without having to look “closely at the current code”.

    On your other points.

    1. I don’t often read the ‘gutter press” as you call it and when I don’t it’s for amusement so I cannot comment on how they ought to be regarded. Perhaps some regular readers will deal with that.

    2. You introduced the notion of a two-tiered system. That is not something which I think is worth contemplating.

    3. Indeed.

    4. That will be for the powers that be to decide, whether the guidelines emanate from a self-regulation system or other.

    5. I am not familiar with “Bogoshi and Holomisa” – but even if I did I would be more interested in what the CC had to say. I think that the CC would have had as much available to them as was necessary to consider the matter carefully and would have arrived at their conclusions accordingly.

  • Michael Osborne

    @ Maggs

    “Choose either or one or neither of possibly/probably.”

    The difference between “possibly” true and “probably” true is vast; the latter being a much stricter standard than the former. I hate to pull professional rank on you, but having written and litigated in this area (and currently being in a battle before the Press Council myself on behalf of a client), I find it difficult to argue with non-lawyers in this area, given that so much depends upon precise language that has acquired a specialised meaning. (I suppose this disconnect between political/popular discourse and technical legal concepts is responsible for much of the confusion and arguing at cross-purposes in this debate.)

    @ “I am not familiar with “Bogoshi and Holomisa” – but even if I did I would be more interested in what the CC had to say. “

    Maggs, Holomisa IS a CC decision, the leading one on the topic. You can read it on the CC website.

    P.S. You have still not said what should happen to editors that repeatedly publish stuff that is not “possibly” or “probably” true, and/or who opt out of any “self-regulation.”

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Michael Osborne says:
    September 12, 2010 at 15:25 pm

    Hey Michael,

    LMAO!

    Lawyers have established a world and discourse all of their own, often with the purpose of leaving behind nothing but muddied water.

    The difference between possibly and probably is only vast to those who want it to be. Kinda like “Did you read …” or “Have you read …”

    Us ordinary people relate differently. When a traffic officer asks “Does you know what you were doing?” it means “You were exceeding the speed limit”.

    You finding it difficult to argue with non-lawyers in this area, given that so much depends upon precise language that has acquired a specialised meaning, is perhaps more the reason to justify a strong MAT which will eliminate having to argue over whether something “probably meant” or “possibly meant”.

    A free media, as I said elsewhere, is essential to the deepening and strengthening of our democracy. I (and many whom I know) would like to be comforted that when I read the billboard or the headlines that it reasonably reflects whatever it attempts to portray and if it does not then somebody, somewhere is going to be hauled over the coals. If that is not the case, as it is now, then the media we have cannot be relied on in this role – so something has to be done.

    What should happen to wayward hacks and/or publications?

    I would settle for proper publicity – a sort of name and shame campaign or thereabouts (and accept that some wayward and/or discredited hacks may end up as advisors to senior government leaders or barmaids in some remote US town).

  • eagleowl

    Maggs, I think you are being disingenious. As a layperson, possibly and probably have VERY different meanings to me.

    The languange used by a Traffic Officer, who may be addressing me in his/her third language, cannot be held to be a legal standard by which us ordinary people should judge the media. (In any event, whatever is said, I understand that there is a good chance that it means “gimme”!) ;-(

    I also think that the “gutter press” nedd to be held to the same standard as their big brothers. For one thing their readership is huge. And for another, their headlines like “Tokoloshe steals bride” are as likely to provoke violence in their audience, who believe in Tokoloshes, as are misleading headlines in any other media.

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    eagleowl says:
    September 12, 2010 at 22:17 pm

    Dunno what happened to my post, but here goes again.

    It may well be that you are able, in the context, to ascertain a significant different over possible/probable – I will concede that you are a far wiser lay person than me. So some kudus for you.

    And well done on understanding the traffic officers third language which is neither fine (p/i) nor precise – the fluidity of your comprehension is noted.

    I have not come across any instances, reported or otherwise, of violence against tokoloshes as a result of the press reports. Perhaps some links will help and the tokoloshes will have a case to be made via the Press Council. Hey who knows, maybe the bride actually eloped with the tokoloshe and the “gutter press” has unfairly reported.

  • eagleowl
  • eagleowl

    Maggs:
    possible= might happen
    probable= more than likely will happen.

    I don’t know much about tokoloshes, so that was probably (=more than likely) a bad example. But a headline that states that someone is a witch and has caused harm is likely to get that witch into physical trouble.

    :)

  • eagleowl

    OOPS @22.39pm
    Interest should of course be “Interesting”

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    eagleowl says:
    September 12, 2010 at 22:44 pm

    Hey EO,

    Please help me decide between which of the two versions below is probable and which is possible.

    De Szabo, who walks with a limp and recently had a hip replacement operation, said she went to Pick n Pay in Park Meadows on August 27 to buy groceries and to pay her phone and electricity bills….

    “Time went by and I stood there. They seemed to have been looking for prices. I said to her, ‘Look, I have to go’. My back and hip were sore. I was tired of waiting as I had been standing for about 20 minutes.”…

    “I could not stand anymore, I was in horrible pain. I twice tried to get the money from her, but she would not let go. I never even touched her,” she said….

    De Szabo claims a polite manager came and sorted everything out, and she went home and forgot about the incident until two police officers arrived at her house the next day, wanting to arrest her.

    But then …

    But video footage taken on the day paints a different story.

    It shows De Szabo unpacking her groceries and the cashier calling a supervisor to get a price for one of the items. De Szabo gives her money to the cashier to ring up.

    The cashier calls the supervisor again, De Szabo grabs the bills from the cashier and starts arguing with her. She starts flapping her arms, gesturing and pointing at the cashier, then tries to grab the money as the cashier is speaking to her supervisor.

    The video shows De Szabo grab the cashier’s hands and jersey, pulling her towards her. The woman gets off her seat and runs away.

    Pick n Pay general manager Anil Gopichund said: “We in no way encourage our employees to lay charges against customers, but the CCTV footage clearly shows the customer harassing the staff member and bordering on physical abuse.

    “She (the cashier) was counselled on the day of the incident and sent home. We also contacted the customer and told her that what she did was unacceptable,” he said.

    http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=13&art_id=vn20100913041845618C448287

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    eagleowl says:
    September 12, 2010 at 22:47 pm

    And here is an interesting piece.

    While the experiences of the young woman was horrific as reported, it’s interesting that nothing is reported about the SAPS version or comments.

    http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=13&art_id=vn20100913042428515C370729&singlepage=1

  • Michael Osborne

    Maggs, your Pick and Pay story actually illustrates the difference between the “possible” and the “probable.”

    It is in principle “possible” that the video is faked, in the sense that the store employed a body double for the customer, then produced a grainy, fuzzy recording, all to support the cashier’s version of the exchange. You could probably get some expert into a court of law to testify that, if Pick and Pay were sufficiently determined, such a scam is indeed within the realm of “possibilty.”

    But is it “probable” that the video is faked in this fashion?

    No.

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    Maggs is right.

    Honest and hard working laypeople can easily sit all day in an office in Braamfontein, applying ordinary-common sense judgments as to whether press accounts are “beyond reproach.” They will certainly not allow themselves to be confused by fancy hyper-technical lawyerly distinctions! Likewise, when the decisons of the media tribunal go on appeal to the courts, the judges will pay no heed to the press lawyers attempts to muddy the waters Legal categories will be set aside in favour of good old-fashion common sense!

    Thanks so much.

  • Brett Nortje

    Dworky, IMHO the ‘MAT’ is not setting the bar high enough. Remember Stoffel Botha and the Ministry of Information?

    I see these media vipers deserve the full attentions of a MINISTRY! (There are only 63 Ministers in JZ’s logical model so there is room for a few more, here and there….)

    How about ‘Minister Beyond Reproach’?

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Michael Osborne says:
    September 13, 2010 at 9:11 am

    Hey Michael,

    Have a look at this headline.

    “Cop refuses R20 bribe”.

    I have no doubt that there will be those who argue that is accurate which it is, as will be those who will argue that it was not intended as mischief or to mislead the ordinary reader.

    It does however convey a different picture to the nub of the story which is

    “A Johannesburg taxi driver was arrested for allegedly trying to bribe a metro policeman with R20 on Monday, metro police spokesman Wayne Minnaar said.”

    http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=13&art_id=nw20100913084511607C627107

  • Gwebecimele

    JOHANNESBURG – This is not a work of fiction; sadly all quotes are true, all of the names mentioned are those of real, living and contactable individuals.

    At the end of last month (August 27), Haralambos (Harry) Sferopoulos, a registered Cipro agent – which is any natural or legal person requiring interaction with Cipro, such as attorneys, law firms, banks, auditors, other enterprises and private individuals – removed Kalahari Resources’s only two directors, Daphne Mashile-Nkosi and Brian Amos Mashile, from Cipro’s database and replaced them with eight new directors including himself.

    Cipro, confirmed on Friday that changes to the directorship of Kalahari Resources (Pty) Ltd “were electronically done by Dr Haralambos Sferopoulos” on August 27.

    According to Cipro agent and director of Kilgetty Statutory Services, Chris Wilson, “before any agent can remove a director from a company, they need to be in posse ssion of a letter of resignation from the outgoing directors, a resolution from the company appointing the new directors and lastly a Cipro mandate.” It appears that only one of these requirements was met.

    Sferopoulos told Moneyweb “I faxed through a copy of the resolution to Cipro but they refused to accept it as a fax; so on Monday I will be delivering it to them on the CM26 form”. The CM26 form is a document that companies requiring changes to their current configuration submit to Cipro. It seems this document was faxed to Cipro, after it contacted Sferopoulos about the “hijack”.

    On the other requirements, Sferopoulos said “according to [the South African Community Government Union (SACGU)] statute, it is the majority shareholder of all companies in South Africa, as such they have the legal authority to remove directors with or without their consent”.

    SACGU was set up by Sferopoulos and others; it has no authority to seize assets as he has claimed. The company and its directors appear to be delusional. Its website claims that according to a special resolution “in terms of section 53 (1) and (3) of Insolvency Act No 24 of 1936 SACGU has decided to amongst others:

    repeal and consolidate the ownership of the Land and Mineral Rights Act;
    repeal and consolidate the Internal Security Act;
    repeal and consolidate the Companies Act No 61 of 1973 and to suspend any amendment to it not to be in force on the 1st of June 2010 pending the reinstituting of the department of the prime minister.
    repeal and consolidate the South African Police Services SAPS Act 1995.”
    SACGU also claims to have sequestrated the following, organs of state:

    The National Prosecution Authority;
    South African Police Service;
    Minister of justice;
    Minister of finance;
    Governor of the Reserve Bank.
    Sferopoulos says his actions are justified “because I’m on the SAGCU board; it’s like a monarchy we’re allowed to be in business; it’s a new law coming out of Sweden that allows us to be in business we are a section 21 company that allows us to hold governments to account”.

    When asked if he had a legal background to quote statutes, he said, “no, but Stephen Khoza, another member of the newly elected directors does; as the head of SACGU he can remove any directors of any company within the Republic of South Africa, according to, (oh yes that) statute that’s why he’s called the master he’s above the judges he’s called the master; his title, according to the Companies Act, he’s called the master he’s very, very strong, trust me you won’t even get a needle passed that”.

    It is a sad day, indeed, when delusions are allowed to become reality, let’s hope government does something soon.

    Write to Lindo Xulu: lindo@moneyweb.co.za

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder says:
    September 13, 2010 at 9:19 am

    Hey Dworky,

    Lawyers, ne?

    Some interesting stuff about people in the noble profession in the latest issue of Noseweek.

    Especially “Lies, damned lies and litigation” and “The Hole Truth?”

    There’s reams of stuff out there as to why society should rely entirely on the integrity of these pure souls.

  • Gwebecimele

    If you thought all the worst scams come from Nigeria, you are in for a BIG suprise. The story above is about hijacking of a company at CIPRO.

  • Samantha

    Just to clarify the “tokoloshe” concept. Recently there was a case on a farm in the Eastern Cape where an inebriated man killed a child who had been left in his and his wife’s care because he thought it was the tokoloshe.

    So, maybe the “gutter press” are just as guilty for perpetuating the myth of the tokoloshe.

    http://www.theherald.co.za/article.aspx?id=566594

  • Siyabonga

    I cannot even begin to understand that what would make a person not to see the thing after he had hit it down, somehow I am finding it very harm to imagine that somehting like this could happen. The least he could have done is to take the “tikolosho” in the house to see exactly what it was and so see if maybe it could talk in order to give him clarity as to the whereabout of the money. To me it just, I cannot crasp it no matter how hard I try.

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    @ Sam

    The kind of EUROCENTRIC scepticism you manifest illustrates why we need more control over the media.

    Maggs, if I may employ your useful distinction: white DA liberals arrogantly dismiss the intervention of the Tokolosh as not POSSIBLE; yet for many of our people such Tokoloshi meddling is quite PROBABLE!

    Thanks.

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder says:
    September 13, 2010 at 11:24 am

    LOL!

  • Samantha

    @ Dworky,

    Once a DA liberal, always a DA liberal. :D

  • Thomas

    Do we really need media freedom?

    Sep 12, 2010 1:17 PM | By Mark Berger

    I have seen this coming for a while now. Since 2008 I have written numerous newsletters criticising the media for their negativity and unbalanced reporting.

    Of course, nobody in the media took much notice. Now the mango has really klapped the fan and we are sitting at another critical point in the history of our young democracy.

    Before I begin, I want to state the following upfront:

    I stand unequivocally and absolutely for complete media freedom in our country. The draconian, restrictive clauses in the Protection of Information Bill and the proposed Media Appeals Tribunal are a major threat to our democracy. They should be fought tooth and nail by everybody (including you) at every opportunity.

    I also stand unequivocally and absolutely for BALANCED reporting. I would like to be fed a balanced diet consisting of what is going wrong in our country (and the world) and what is going right. This is definitely not happening right now!

    When I speak of the media in this article, I speak mainly of the print press, radio and television news reports. I refer broadly to the world media at large, not just the South African Media.

    I also stand for balanced politics. I am therefore not aligned or loyal to any political party. I am loyal to my country and her citizens. I will therefore always vote for the opposition, regardless of which party it happens to be, until such time as we have a healthy balance of political power in SA. In the USA, they have only 2 parties, both with almost equal support. The one is more left wing and the other more right wing. This creates a healthy balance of power, and every few years the one ruling party is replaced by the other and the new broom has the opportunity to sweep clean. I long for the day when we can get to a similar position in our country.

    I do not subscribe to GLOP, or General Labelling Of People. I therefore do not believe that ALL politicians and ALL policemen are corrupt. I do not believe that ALL journalists and ALL editors have hidden agendas. I do not believe that ALL men are pigs and ALL blondes are dumb. My experience has shown me that ALL people are unique and different, with a capacity for good and evil in equal measure. The Yin and the Yan exists in all of us. It is the CHOICES we make in each moment of each day which will determine who we become.

    I am a serial optimist, in that I always look for the inherent good in people, situations and life. I acknowledge that there is a whole lot in the news right now which may make some people concerned, angry, ashamed or downright terrified. I simply do not allow this drama to affect my positive focus or drain my valuable energy. I choose rather to be part of the solution and therefore keep looking for ways to make things better for myself and my fellow South Africans. Life is what you make it my boet, and happiness is an inside job!

    I am privileged to meet hundreds of new people every month as part of my work. They are people of every age, sex, race and religion. I interact and motivate and communicate and connect with them at all levels. I find most of them to be kind, helpful, concerned, caring people who simply want a better life for themselves and their loved ones. Yet they find it increasingly difficult to stay positive about our country (or the planet) and its future. Their attitude is massively influenced by what they see, hear and read in the mainstream media.

    I have a tendency to look at the bigger picture of our country, planet, galaxy and universe as a way to stay positive by keeping it all in perspective. I also try to be open-minded and see things from many different viewpoints, in order to understand WHY things are the way they are.

    Ok so let’s get into the topic of media freeDOM. In my understanding, the word NEWS is an acronym for North, East, West and South. Therefore part of the job of the media is to tell us what is going ON. Yet they insist upon telling us mainly what is going WRONG. More than 75% of what we see, hear and read in the mainstream media is negative. This would appear to be a worldwide phenomenon, as evidenced by the following quotes:

    Bestselling American author Deepak Chopra: “The current perception I get from the news is that the world is dominated by human failure, crime, catastrophe, corruption, and tragedy. We are all tuning in to see how the human mind is evolving, but the media keeps hammering home the opposite, that the human mind is mired in darkness and folly”.

    Paul Conneally, Head of Media for the International Red Cross: “In 2008, more than 75 percent of the media stories in Africa were negative. This is despite the fact that there are many positive indications that the African economy is going from strength to strength, that governments are becoming more accountable.”

    A verse from John Mayer’s hit song, Waiting for the world to change: “When you trust the television, what you get is what you got, cause when they own the information, they can bend it all they want.”

    In my May 2008 newsletter I sunk so low as to refer to journalists as uninspired, negative, disaster focused, sensation seeking, sad sorry scumbags. Again, I have come to realise that not ALL of them deserve this nasty title. However, since then, I have repeatedly asked why the mainstream media insists on shoving so much D down our throats – Death, Destruction, Disaster, Divorce, Disease, Doubt, Depression and Doom. I have pleaded for them to dish us up more palatable, balanced fare with lots more C – Compassion, Caring, Courage, Consciousness, Creativity, Community, Comedy, Chivalry and Capability.

    Yet all we ever seem to see is Catastrophe after Catastrophe.

    Have you ever considered the reasons why the media cannot give us more C? Here are some possible causes:

    1. They are simply giving the public what they want. They understand that for some strange reason we are morbidly attracted to the horror and disaster and drama. I often ask my audiences why they continue to watch, read or listen to the news, when about 80% of it is negative. They usually tell me: “I need to know what is going on”, or “I have always watched it – it’s just a habit” or “it makes me feel good to know that the crap I see going on out there is not happening to me!” Well break the habit buddy – you may as well go and bang your head against a wall because it feels so good when the pain stops.

    2. The media have their backs against the wall – they are under major threat and engaged in a desperate fight for survival. They face huge competition from each other, as well as from the Internet, YouTube, Blogs, Social Media, Gumtree and the likes. Advertising revenue is plunging and shareholders are complaining. So they are forced to find the most sensationalist, scary, shocking headlines and stories in order to try and sell more newspapers and advertising space. When it comes to choosing headlines: If it bleeds – it leads. Sies man!

    3. It is damn difficult to write positive, uplifting, funny, motivational articles. Do you know that it literally takes me weeks to write these newsletters? It involves countless hours of preparation and researching and agonising and refining and adding and deleting and fretting and fussing. I’m serious – writing these things sometimes feels like giving birth to a porcupine – a true labour of love.

    It just seems to be so much easier to dig up some muck, uncover an affair, gasp at the levels of greed and corruption or dish up another disaster According to the World Health Organisation, 150 000 people will die on this planet EVERY 24 HOURS and some of these deaths are bound to be horrific. So how hard do you have to look to find something tragic to report on?

    By the way, I am all for investigative reporting – goodness knows we really do need these brave people. But what about the POSITIVE investigative reporting – who does that? Who is tasked to go and sniff out the diligent, hard working unsung heroes in our politics, police force, educational system, bureaucracies and municipalities ? Who writes about those hard-working human beings who fulfil the thankless role of being true public servants? Somebody out there is providing low cost homes, electrifying the townships, supplying clean running water, improving our roads, catching criminals and paying welfare. A whole lot of people worked their butts off to make the Soccer World Cup such a major success. Yet how many stories have you read about them?

    Think about this – how would you feel if you were a quiet, diligent, hardworking, honest, uncorrupt public servant, going the extra mile for your constituents and earning a pretty small salary to boot. You never seek the limelight because you are not doing this for the glory – it is your patriotic call of duty. And all you ever get to read about is the scum and sleaze and the sickening greed and excess of your colleagues.

    How would this make you feel? Proud perhaps, or patriotic and motivated to work harder? Shit scared that you might get caught if you behave the way they do? Or tempted to get on the gravy train yourself because nobody seems to get convicted if they are caught anyway?

    Option 3 seems most likely to me!

    Do you stubborn editors sincerely believe that fear is a deterrent any more? Get your arrogant heads out of your arses and wake up! Fear ceased to work years ago. We have moved into a new age, a time of awakening consciousness, a time for using positive praise to reinforce good behaviour. You have not moved with the times. Admittedly, you have become really good at catching people who screw up. Now however, it is time for you to also start catching them succeeding.

    The media seem to believe that if they continually catch people doing things WRONG, eventually EVIL will be eradicated and GOOD will prevail. So they encourage whistle blowing and investigative reporting and exposés. This is all good and well, but is it achieving the result? No, because the theory is fatally flawed. We all know psychologically that telling somebody NOT to do something is like waving a red flag to a bull.

    So they keep perpetuating the negative behaviour. They turn criminals into superstars. Why can’t they turn boring bureaucrats or brave policemen into heroes? Or is that too much like hard work and not really “newsworthy” either?

    The media seriously needs to redefine this term “newsworthy” if they want to retain their worth and relevance. Because even if government succeeds in forcing through restrictive legislation, modern technology will ensure that there is always a free flow of relevant information. And for this to happen we don’t really NEED the mainstream media. This is the awesome power of the internet!

    Right now I can imagine the editors and journalists thinking: “Piss off you privileged little prick – it’s easy for you to sit in your ivory tower and take pot shots at us. You have no idea of the challenges we face every day in doing our jobs.”

    You are right. I have never worked within the media. And I can imagine that you work under extreme deadlines and huge pressure, sometimes for relatively little pay. And right now, your very survival is being challenged. I imagine that it must be an extremely challenging time for all of you. That is why I say it is time to adapt or die my friends.

    In my line of work, I speak to hundreds of people each month, literally thousands per year, with the objective of motivating and inspiring them and giving them hope and self belief. And I have realised that they believe what you feed them and that your narrative shapes their attitudes dramatically. And they have become so numbed and shell shocked that they have lost their passion, their hope, their optimism and compassion. They are wandering in the terrifying wilderness looking for guidance and you are giving them very little, if any, scraps of hope. Yet you expect them to support you now, in your time of need?

    The question is simply as follows: Do you believe that seeing is believing or BELIEVING IS SEEING? Think about that deeply. Are you merely reporting on what is happening or are you actually CAUSING some of it to happen? Have you ever considered that some of your reporting on criminal behaviour might actually encourage others to commit crimes?

    Alternatively, do you understand the power of an optimistic nation filled with belief in itself?

    Yet you continue to report mainly on what is going wrong, assuming that the public will find out for themselves what is really going on, what is going right. Well too many of them do not, they cannot, they will not. They need you to tell them, because they trust you and they believe you and they pay your salaries. You wield great power, and with great power comes great responsibility. I believe that it is the irresponsible use of this power which is partly to blame for the current media freedom debacle.

    As I said earlier, I am all for media freedom. I am all for democracy and choice. But if you cannot make the shift to balanced, responsible reporting, you will cease to exist my friends. You are busy digging your own graves.

    The negative news depresses me. It always has. It creates the perception that there is more going wrong on the planet than is going right. It fans the flames of fear in our hearts. And yet, there is so much good happening, in many of our communities, our workplaces, our corporations, our NGO’s, our places of worship, our conservation activities, our charities and our informal business sector.

    I think that half of the hoo-ha going on right now actually boils down to the fact that the media rarely highlights any of the good work being done by our ruling party. They rarely champion any of the positive achievements of the ANC. They paint them (as they did the Nats before them) as corrupt, incompetent, bumbling buffoons, driven by greed and ego and nepotism. And as I said before, not ALL of them are like that. If they were, our country would be a lot worse off than it is right now. Perhaps it’s because the media are afraid of being seen as too patriotic or selling out to the government if they did show some balance by also reporting on their positive achievements?

    Well I am not afraid. As I said earlier, I will support the opposition until we have a balance of power. But this does not mean that I cannot acknowledge the great work done by Trevor Manuel, Gill Marcus, Pravin Gordhan, Tito Mboweni, Cheryl Carolus, Tokyo Sexwale and Cyril Ramaphosa. And these are the high profile people. How many more are there to be found out there, doing good, selfless, honest work to help make this place better? Let’s find them and praise them and report on them so that they can become highly visible, high profile shining examples of what is going right.

    In the profession of selling we sometimes split our sales team into hunters and farmers. Hunters are tasked with seeking out new business and prospects whilst farmers focus on building and nurturing the existing relationships. What if the media employed a similar approach – hunters were tasked to dig up the negative issues and farmers were instructed to focus on sniffing out and exposing the good stuff. Cause we all know there is a whole lot of really good stuff going on out there. But how will the “farmers” make the “ordinary stuff” NEWSWORTHY? And, more importantly, will it be bought by their customers? It takes hard work, effort, sweat and creativity to find the good stuff being done by Joe Public and more importantly – to write about it in a positive, uplifting and interesting way.

    But there are glimmers of hope. Just google Lead SA or SA Goodnews or Awesome SA or Stop Crime Say Hello. Take a look at how much good news they have to offer. Then ask yourself why you still pay to get depressed when there is so much positive stuff available for free?

    The media must take some responsibility for the current media freedom debacle. I am not asking you to stop exposing the negatives. I am imploring you to find ways to balance what you feed us. We are hungry for good news boet, in fact we are starving.

    But here is the most important point: Ultimately, it will require of us, the public, to shift beyond OUR conditioned, negative, fearful, victim based beliefs before we are ready to support such a massive shift in the mainstream media.

    We urgently need to wake ourselves up, to become conscious, to increase our awareness. We need to start recycling and conserving and saving our planet. We need to stop fearing and hating each other. We need to finally learn to love and accept ourselves and others. The next 2 years are going to force us to do this. We are going to see more change and uncertainty in the next 2 years than we saw in the last 10. And our best method to cope with this challenge will be to dramatically accelerate our spiritual evolution. We do this through growing our knowledge and experience of what it means to be a whole, humble human being.

    To quote Gary Zukav, from his beautiful book The Seat of the Soul: “Our species is no longer humble. It has no reverence. It is arrogant and filled with its own technology. We take from the earth and from each other. We destroy forests and oceans and atmosphere. We enslave each other, and torture and beat and humiliate and murder each other.”

    He goes on to suggest: “Your decision to evolve consciously through responsible choice contributes not only to your own evolution, but also to the evolution of all of those aspects of humanity in which you participate. It is not just you that is evolving through your decisions, but the entirety of humanity.

    So there you have it. And now that you know it is ultimately all up to you, yes YOU, what on earth can you do?

    It’s your time now to stand up and be counted. Join Lead SA. Write letters to your media of choice, encouraging them to balance their reporting. Sign all the petitions for media freedom. Read self help books and attend workshops to accelerate your evolution. Find a spiritual teacher or healer. Get a LIFE.

    If you are unsure where to start with all of this, please email me and I will gladly point you to the multitude of books, courses, teachers and resources which are readily available to you right now. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

    But, most importantly, do whatever it takes to drop your baggage, move from victim to victor and make the shift from pessimist to optimist. Start making a difference wherever you can RIGHT NOW instead of waiting for the world to change.

    As Gandhi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

    You are the world. It is your time to shine. Do it NOW. Ke Nako.

  • Samantha

    Siyabonga says:
    September 13, 2010 at 11:15 am

    You need to also bear in mind that alcohol plays a big part in all of this and that, more than anything, goes to the heart of a number of the socio-economic issues in this country.

  • Michael Osborne

    @ Mark Berger

    “A whole lot of people worked their butts off to make the Soccer World Cup such a major success. Yet how many stories have you read about them? ”

    I suppose this well illustrates that whether or not one sees the media as “balanced” depends upon your starting point. My own impression is that the coverage of the SWC has been very imbalanced — by way of mindless pro-FIFA, pro WC and pro govt boosterism. Yes, there have been stories about the enormous cost, the unviability of the stadia in the medium term, and how money has been drained from poverty relief. But I thought this “bad news” has been utterly drowned out by relentless drum-beating vuvuzela-blowing enthusiasm about the whole affair.

    Thomas, should I report what I see as a gross imbalance in the WC coverage to the Press Council?

  • http://www.torproject.org/ z

    In my opinion the ANC’s censorship of the internet will be “fruitless” and pointless as more and more people will start to use free, secure, anonymous and censorship resistant forms of internet such as freenet (http://freenetproject.org/) or use TOR (http://www.torproject.org/) which is an encrypted, secure, anonymous and free method to bypass censorship. To be honest I wouldn’t be surprised if they ban political parties from “acting against the national interest”.

    I already have TOR just in case they enact the unconstitutional legislation.

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    z says:
    September 13, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    “I already have TOR just in case they enact the unconstitutional legislation.”

    Huh????

  • Gwebecimele

    @ Mark Berger (Thomas)

    This optimism that is enhanced by support for the opposition is interesting and I guess it differs at provincial and national level.

    The biggest problem with this MAT debate is that none of us know, what kind of an animal we are talking about. Instead of trading blows over an unkown let us reserve our energies for the right moment.

    Whilst it might be easy to ask for good and bad news, I guess it will be more complex to classify what is around us. Just think of Nationalisation, Capitalism, Cadre Deployment, Ministerial Handbook, 7,5% for public service, Foreign Coach for Bafana, Profiteering, elitism, centralised planning, poligamy, Gay , Labour laws, Removal of street kids, Response to smoking Quran or Bible pages, Alliance, ARV’s , Globalisation and many other issues.

    In my opinion the biggest problem is the divided nation that will always view these news from their various coloured glasses and positions of interest. It might be easy to blame journalists for that but I doubt if there is an editor/journalist who wakes up and vow to bring missery on our daily front pages.

    I suspect it is more of a story whether good or bad being exploited to further certain interest rather than good stories not making it to headlines. Excellence and good deeds will always rise to the top with or without manipulation.

    The President’s son generosity is a good case in point.

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Michael Osborne says:
    September 13, 2010 at 9:11 am

    Hey Michael,

    Now is a good time for me to exit the probable/possible discussion – I’ll concede that the implications are different.

    I don’t think that the standard for reports have to be beyond reasonable doubt – there has to be a sufficient and reliable basis for reporting on matters that affect all of us.

    The media should be able to report, as it did, the cost of redecorating General Cele’s now house being split from the total of R750 000 into two parts each less than R500 000 which it seems was done to bypass the tender protocols. If the general or the department has a sound reason for doing that then they will no doubt respond and clear up such doubts.

    I don’t think that privacy covers public figures and public money. The media had every right to report on Tiger Wood’s side shows and the public had every right to hear it.

    The point I made and will continue to make is that we need to be reasonably confident that what we read is not without a proper basis, even if it turns out later that it is wrong – in which case we need to know that too. If the billboards and headlines roared “Tiger cheats” then if it turned out that Tiger did not cheat, then the billboards and headlines should scream “Tiger did not cheat”.

    At the very least there should be the structures and mechanism in place to ensure that.

  • Michael Osborne

    Maggs, the Press Code already provides more or less what you want;

    See Part A, 1.1 “The press shall be obliged to report news truthfully, accurately and fairly.”

    Part A 1.3 “Only what may reasonably be true, having regard to the source of the news, may be presented as fact … where a report is founded on opinion, allegation, rumour or supposition, it shall be presented in such manner as to indicate that fairly.”

    I am frustrated that your calls, and the calls of others, for revision of the Code seem uninformed by what it actually says.

    Now, you may have legitimate problems with the manner in which the Code is enforced. But then you should look at actual decisions of the Ombudsman, and the appeal panel (which you will find on the web), and the CC, and say specifically where they went wrong. Otherwise, your calls for reform, being founded on vague impressions, are unaccompanied by the particularity necessary to point to what should be changed.

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Michael Osborne says:
    September 13, 2010 at 13:58 pm

    Hey Michael,

    My calls for reform are not founded on vague impressions.

    Your views seem to contradict the views of the Press Council and Sanef.

    The Press Council of South Africa (PCSA) is to undertake a complete review of its constitution in the wake of criticisms which have emerged in debate over the ANC’s planned media appeals tribunal.

    And Sanef

    Pappaya presented a different perspective, saying the discussion was not about an outright failure of a self-regulatory system, but rather about gaps in the system that were being aggressively addressed. “There was agreement that there were gaps and that (the system) needed to be strengthened. We particularly addressed aspects related to these inadequacies and that we were totally committed to strengthening the current system. We really believe self-regulation is good for our Constitution, it protects media freedom, it is good for our democracy and we will look at strengthening this system.”

    http://www.thedailymaverick.co.za/article/2010-09-10-anc-and-sanef-agree-to-continue-to-disagree

    Now here’s an extremely odd remark

    Raymond Louw, chairperson of the PCSA, said in a statement earlier this month …

    The statement also took aim at “a startling ignorance about what goes on in the press ombudsman’s office”.

    That ignorance has come about mainly because there is poor press about what goes on in the press ombudsman’s office – that says a lot about the Press Code and the Ombudsman.

  • Michael Osborne

    Maggs, the PCSA text you quoted also lacks specifics about what is to change.

    As a practitioner in the area, this is of great interest to me.

    I have a suspicion that whatever changes come from the inside will be cosmetic, designed to keep the wolves from the door.

    I may be wrong, We will see, time will tell.

  • Gwebecimele

    Did I miss the Steve Biko lecture or was it another “bad” news that we did not want to hear?

    I believe the presenter was very harsh on some journalists and may be that explains the media blackout.

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Hmmm.

    It seems that pigspotter is falling foul of the PoIB!

    Johannesburg metro police spokesman Wayne Minnaar had no idea of PigSpotter’s existence until The Times called him yesterday.

    He later said officers “will catch PigSpotter and deal with him because what he is doing is illegal”.

    “It’s wrong for him to inform people of the whereabouts of the officers on duty because drunk drivers will use other roads and cause accidents which could lead to innocent lives being lost,” he said.

    http://www.timeslive.co.za/local/article659286.ece/Metro-police-hunt-PigSpotter

  • Gwebecimele

    @ Maggs
    Lets hope they will finally come out of the bush and do real work.

  • Gwebecimele

    African Politicians are talking directly to the people whilst others are hiding.

    http://www.mg.co.za/article/2010-09-15-nigeria-president-declares-election-bid-on-facebook

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    So this is how it’s done!

    If any big steel companies out there are interested please contact Mr Zuma at the email address included below.

    3/5 Commercial Rd,
    Durban 4001,South Africa.

    Dear Friend,

    I got your contact today,with hope you are reliable and trustworthy.

    Am the head of the contract award committee and 14 project allocation manager, of the Department of Minerals and Natural Resources in Durban-Southafrica.

    I need your assistance to bank (USD10.02M) and subsequent investment it on properties in your country urgently.You will be required to.

    (1) Assist in the banking safely of the said funds
    (2) Advise on lucrative areas for investment
    (3) Assist in purchase of properties.

    If you can render your assistance in this regard, 20% of the total investment sum will be for you,as your commission.
    It will be done under a legitimate process so that we will not breach any international or local laws,governing the same.Making it a 100% risk free.

    I wait in anticipation of your reply and co-operation.

    Best Regards,
    Solomon Zuma.
    Private Box: solomonzuma2010@contractor.net

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