The civil rights initiative AfriForum has undertaken to fight in court for media freedom, even if it were to mean that this fight has to be taken to the level of the Constitutional Court. According to AfriForum, the ANC’s proposed Media Appeals Tribunal and the passing of the Protection of Information Bill, will be in direct contravention of Article 16 of the South African Constitution, which guarantees media freedom. AfriForum has also undertaken to discuss cooperation for the protection of media freedom with other civil institutions.
Kallie Kriel, CEO of AfriForum, warned that the ANC’s efforts to curtail media freedom, have left South Africa at a dangerous crossroad. Kriel states that a free media plays a crucial role in holding public representatives accountable. The restriction of this constitutional right will drop South Africa in a downhill spiral, ending in self-destruction.
According to Kriel, the tragedy which is currently happening in Zimbabwe, also started with the restriction of media freedom. “Therefore civil society has to join forces to make it clear that South Africa not just is yet another Zimbabwe, but in fact is a country where the civil society jealously guards basic freedoms, such as the freedom of the media,” Kriel said.
Kriel expressed the hope that the ANC will urgently reconsider its onslaught against the media, but also emphasised that AfriForum is prepared to appoint the country’s top legal experts to fight for media freedom in the country, if the ANC were to continue plans to restrict the media.