Concerns grow surrounding South African press freedom
Concerns regarding press freedom in South Africa are growing after the firing of a prominent journalist in the country.
Recently, the South African civil rights leader Nelson Mandela died, leading many to mourn around the country. Among the various injustices he stood up to during his lifetime was freedom of speech and the press. Now, recent action within the country is leading many to believe that these rights could be on the decline after a recent article led to the firing of a prominent journalist.
Corruption breeds corruption
According to the Index on Censorship, Alide Dasnois, the editor of the Cape Times, was recently fired after a front-page article was published about corruption involving the owning company of the paper.
The Cape Times recently changed ownership after the Sekunjalo Holdings purchased the publication from the Irish company Independent News and Media. According to the news source, the story reported that the country's fisheries department provided the holding company with a biased and improper award of around $76.7 million.
After the story was published, the Dasnois was dismissed from the company. The Index on Censorship noted that the editor was "offered other positions" within the office, and that the decision came about as a result of low performing news paper sales, though, this has been a trend across most print publications.
This action is only the recent in what some feel is a declining climate for press freedom in South Africa. In an opinion piece for All Africa, Raymond Louw argued that the ruling African National Congress regards the press as "the opposition." This kind of a position toward the press is a poor approach to take as the practice of journalism is done for the public good.
For instance, the ANC has sought to act as a watchdog over the press through a proposed parliamentary tribunal. If instated, these kinds of policies would give the ANC the power to punish newspapers for "misdemeanors and other ethical lapses," with punishments that could result in fines and jail time.
These kinds of policies would be a detriment to the state of the nation as a whole. The news source noted that the country is home to one of the most well regarded constitutions in the world. However, this kind of action could work counter to these strengths and hurt democracy in the country as a whole.