Yengeni's MP Wife Tackles 'Vicious Media'
ANC MP Lumka Yengeni cracked the whip against the media last night, accusing it of breaking the law, unscrupulous reporting and vicious attacks on ANC leaders.
The abuse of the right of freedom of expression should be "fearlessly resisted", Yengeni said during debate on the communications budget in the National Assembly.
She said the media appeared to have positioned themselves as "opposition" to the ANC-led government.
This was seen in the way they continuously attacked government policies, inaccurate reporting of issues related to government departments and their "viciousness when dealing with ANC members of parliament and ANC leadership in general".
This appeared to be a reference to ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma, several Travelgate MPs and her own husband, Tony, a former ANC chief whip who was exposed in the media for accepting massive discounts on a luxury vehicle from an company with an interest in arms contracts, while he was the chairperson of the joint committee on defence. He was later convicted of fraud, but is appealing.
Yengeni also accused the media of "blatantly breaking all the rules by commenting on issues that are sub judice" and attacking judges with whose judgments they disagreed.
She said there was still no significant media which represented and articulated the aspirations, views and interests of the majority of South Africans.
"As long as transformation of the media is off-limits as a subject of political debate it will be difficult to imagine any change for the better in relationships between the media, government and democratic movement," she said.
Media restructuring and transformation "must take place as part of the broader political movement to democratise, racialise and create a non-sexist South Africa", she said.
The struggle for a media that reflect a diversity inherent in the South African society, should not be confused with an anti-media stance.
Yengeni said news should not be defined by political and commercial elitist sections of society.
"The dominance of English and Afrikaans programming of news, soapies, drama and commercials are not a reflection of the greater South African diversity," she said.
The function of the media was still rooted in its apartheid history.
"There is there a need to continually engage the media around attitude towards democratic movement and government," she said.
With acknowledgement to Boyd Webb and Cape Argus.