Zuma assures editors about media freedom

Friday, July 24, 2009

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma has assured editors that the South African government will work to promote freedom of expression and media freedom on the African continent.

President Zuma met with The African Editors Forum (TAEF) on Friday where he listened to concerns raised by the body on issues of media freedom on the continent.

TAEF requested the meeting to brief the new administration on the challenges currently facing journalists in Africa.

Issues of media freedom and the role of the media in the socio economic development of the continent were also discussed extensively, according to International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who was part of the meeting.

Briefing the media, the minister said President Zuma had given TAEF an assurance that government will continue to uphold and respect media freedom in South Africa.

"This was a very important meeting for us; the first encounter with the African Editors Forum.

"One thing we all agreed upon is that we are all Africans and we are very eager to project an image of an Africa that is rising politically socially and economically," Minister Nkoana- Mashabane said.

She said for media to play its development role in Africa, each sector of society needed to play its role.

"Governments need to govern properly, the media need to report constructively and by that we don't mean they must always report what we want to hear," she said.

The minister congratulated former City Press Editor Mathatha Tsedu on his appointment as chairperson of TAEF.

Mr Tsedu said the editors also pointed President Zuma to the continuing harassment of journalists in most African countries while threats to media freedom in countries like Zimbabwe, Gambia, Somalia and the Sudan were also raised.

"The discussion centered around a number of issues of concerns that TAEF has with issues of media freedom in the continent and also the role we see ourselves play in enabling media to play its role in the socio-economic development of the continent.

"Media Freedom is still under threat in countries like Zimbabwe, the Sudan, Gambia, Niger, Eritrea, to name but a few," said Mr Tsedu.

TAEF, which is a body representing the needs of editors and journalists in Africa, has its headquarters in South Africa.