Government commemorates Media Freedom Day

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Government has joined the media fraternity in commemorating the anniversary of Media Freedom Day, which resulted in legislative guarantees of press freedom and editorial independence.

“The 19th of October, commonly known as Black Wednesday, is set aside to commemorate media freedom following a one-day crackdown in 1977 on publications and the outlawing of anti-apartheid groups by South Africa's apartheid government,” said the Government Communications and Information System (GCIS).

On that day, South Africa's apartheid government banned three publications and outlawed 17 anti-apartheid groups during the one-day crackdown.

Acting Director General of the GCIS, Phumla Williams, said the attainment of democracy brought to the forefront challenges to the media system. Today South Africa enjoys a media industry which is key to a healthy and vibrant democracy, she said.

“The hard-fought for freedom of the press in 1977 played an instrumental role in the attainment of democracy, and it is the very same freedom that still has a pivotal role in moving South Africa forward. The Constitution explicitly protects media freedom, which is recognised as playing a critical role in the advancement of national unity and equality for all,” said Williams.

Government today celebrates the country’s media as instrumental in realising the National Development Plan’s vision of eliminating poverty and reducing inequality and unemployment by 2030.

Government also remains committed to strengthening its partnership and stakeholder relations with the media industry.

“As the bona fide media industry embraces the technological revolution, addresses the rise of fake news and improves the quality of journalism in the country, it will significantly contribute in shaping and moving South Africa in an upward trajectory,” Williams said.

The commemoration of Media Freedom Day coincides with the celebration of Oliver Reginald Tambo centenary month. Communication was one of the most powerful weapons that OR Tambo believed would dismantle the apartheid government and liberate South Africans. He was also instrumental in the establishment of Radio Freedom. -


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