Southern African Freelancers’ Association applauds victory for media independence 


It is with great excitement that the Southern African
Freelancers’ Association (SAFREA)
shares the news of two major wins for a more
independent public broadcaster and greater media freedom in South Africa.

On 17 October, the announcement of the seventh Minister of Communications since
2009 could not cloud the mood of media practitioners as they celebrated court rulings
pivotal to the independent functioning of the SABC.

In a case brought by the SOS Coalition, together with Media Monitoring Africa (MMA)
and the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI), against the Minister and the SABC
(with Right2Know as amicus), the High Court passed judgment on the powers of the
Board and Minister in relation to the appointment of senior executives of the SABC.

In a release issued by the SOS Coalition, the civil society coalition said that they and
their partners welcomed the judgement. They explained that the Board now has the
exclusive power to appoint non-executive members, without any requirement or
approval on the part of the Minister. “The SABC Board has the exclusive prerogative to
appoint, through a transparent process, the GCEO, CFO and COO and any other non-
executive members of the Board. Not only is the SABC Board able to exclusively
appoint the non-executive members, but they are also able to discipline and/or
remove any such members.”

The SOS Coalition said that this makes the current Board the most independent since
the birth of South Africa’s democracy.

The second triumph came when the court declared that SABC Board members may
not be removed from office, except through the provisions of sections 15(1) and 2 and
15(A) of the Broadcasting Act. The SOS Coalition explained that previously, Board
members had been removed from their positions unlawfully through the Companies
Act, noting the cases of Ronnie Lubisi and Rachel Kalidass.

The ruling helps shut the door on political interference in the public broadcaster.

SAFREA salutes the work of the SOS
, MMA and FXI and celebrates their hard-earned victories for media
freedom in South Africa.

More details can be found on the SOS Coalition website, and the full court judgement
is available here.