Parliament, media meet to iron out differences

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Pretoria - The Secretary to Parliament, Gengezi Mgidlana, has met with the Executive Committee of the Parliament Gallery Association (PGA) and the South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) to iron out any misunderstanding between the media and Parliament.

The meeting between the Secretary and leadership of the PGA and SANEF took place at 6pm on Tuesday ahead the State of the Nation Address (SONA). This came after a series of articles and a media briefing where journalists expressed concerns about allegations of security arrangements that would inhibit their work of reporting on the SONA.

“These allegations had been rejected by the Parliament of South Africa at various points which included a media conference of the Secretary to Parliament last week, a rebuttal statement and a media conference held on Tuesday, 7 February,” said Parliament.

Despite the reassurances by the administrative and political leadership of Parliament, media expressed apprehensions about a briefing allegedly done by Parliamentary Protection Services.

The meeting agreed on the following issues as part of a way-forward:

-        Nothing has changed in the regulations and protocols governing the operations of the media accredited to cover the State of the Nation Address;

-        Parliament will provide in writing a detailed outline of media rights and responsibilities to guide how scores of the accredited media will perform and be assisted by Parliamentary Communication Services (PCS);

-        A liaison team of the PGA and PCS was established to provide a hotline between the media and Parliament, providing a first point of call to help nip any potential real or imaginary challenge in the bud.

The first meeting of the joint liaison team of the PGA and PCS is due to take place on Wednesday in Cape Town.

On Tuesday, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli said the media will not be restricted from doing their work during this year’s SONA.

“Parliament is looking forward to a successful SONA 2017 with the participation of all its stakeholders, including the media,” Tsenoli said.

President Jacob Zuma will deliver the SONA at 7pm on Thursday. –

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