JOHANNESBURG – The SA National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has announced the launch of a coalition to spearhead efforts to promote and entrench freedom of speech across all levels of South African society. The Coalition for Free Speech will champion a collective drive by media, big business and civil society to amplify the importance of free speech as a pillar of our democracy and not just a matter which concerns media.
At a summit of members of Sanef held in Johannesburg on 30 August 2010, this combined approach was adopted with the aim to challenge the current secrecy legislation and the ANC’s proposed media appeals tribunal.
In response to a need for a united front against the secrecy legislation, Sanef set up a series of committees tasked with drafting and implementing strategies to counter the threats to people’s right to know. In addition to this, Sanef plans to embark on a proactive campaign aimed at illustrating the importance of the principle of “more information is better than less’ in issues relevant to all South Africans.
“This combined effort will reach out to all sectors of society that are potentially affected by the proposed legislation, so that we have a collective and representative body driving our campaign.
“We feel it is important that the current debate on media freedom be contextualised within the framework of a broader free speech culture in South African society,’ said Chairperson Mondli Makhanya. The committees charged with critical objectives and deliverables will begin work immediately, Makhanya said.
Issued by the SA National Editors’ Forum (SANEF)