Publication: Independent Online Issued: Date: 2000-11-24 Reporter: Sapa Editor:

Pahad Criticises Media for "Damaging Claims"

Publication  Independent Online
Date 2000-11-24
Reporter Sapa
Web Link

Minister in the Office of the Presidency, Essop Pahad, on Friday criticised sections of the South African media for not adequately investigating allegations and for insensitivity towards different cultures.

Addressing the Forum of Black Journalists in Johannesburg, he said journalists should be careful about blindly reporting "shoddy and damaging" claims.

Referring to a recent report stating that he had attempted to squash the investigation into the country's controversial R43,8-billion arms deal, Pahad warned the media against being used by groups to settle internal party disputes.

"Do not allow yourselves to be used and abused by a source to fight their cause in your newspaper."

'Do not allow yourselves to be used and abused by a source' 

Earlier this month, the Sunday Independent quoted unidentified sources saying that Pahad had at an ANC meeting argued for the probe to be halted on fears that it could harm the image of high-ranking party officials. 

He reiterated that the allegation was a "tissue of lies" made by "impimpis". 

The African National Congress's attitude towards the probe was that where there was corruption it should be exposed.

Pahad said there was no such thing as one public opinion and that it was wrong of newspapers to attempt to reflect the views of the whole society. 

'It is arrogant for the media to reflect their view of society as the definitive one' "There is a difference between white opinion around the dinner table in the  leafy (Johannesburg) northern suburbs than in other areas."

This had become clear in the coverage of the death of presidential spokesperson Parks Mankahlana.

He said that people in the "affluent" areas might have wanted more openness and frankness about the cause of Mankahlana's death, while those from other cultures had respected the sensitivity of the issue. 

"I am very firmly of the view that those that pursued the matter... are totally unacceptable."

While South Africa should never compromise on the rights of journalists to write, and of broadcasters to broadcast, they had to be responsible and should respect the right to privacy.

Pahad said the government hoped to release a position paper on the transformation of the media soon. 

The paper would be released for public discussion before a more comprehensive document was submitted to cabinet.

The planned Media Development and Diversity Agency would look at media ownership and the level of skills of local journalists, which he said was "not much to shout about". - Sapa

With acknowledgement to Sapa and Independent Online.