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Media Fears Censorship Under New Government Bill

South Africa's investigative reporters say they fear a proposed "media tribunal" could end their exposures of public corruption and maladministration by government officials.

In the name of allowing average citizens to hold the media accountable, President Jacob Zuma's ANC has proposed a tribunal, accountable to an ANC-led parliament to monitor and sanction the press.

A Protection of Information Bill is also under consideration to curb the reporting of so-called "state secrets." Journalists reporting official information the state deems classified could face as many as 25 years in prison.

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe, speaking to the South African National Editors Forum, defended the tribunal concept but stressed that media would not be treated as the apartheid regime treated black journalists. He invited the media to participate in drafting legislation.

In an opposition piece, Thulani Ndlovu, former Zimbabwe reporter and now law student, wrote: "The imperfections and limitations of the press are hardly the most pressing problems facing South Africa... Instead of attacking the press for 'blowing the whistle' on maladministration and corruption, the government should tackle those problems head on."

 

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