Government and media talk over relations at two-day meeting

Cape Town- South Africa (PANA) -- Leading South African editors on Friday began meeting government officials, including President Thabo Mbeki and Deputy President Jacob Zuma, at a two- day workshop in the North-West Province aimed at improving relations between them.
Tensions between the government and the media are at an all- time high and it is no secret that the government believes a cabal of white editors wield enormous power, dictate public opinion and influence government policy.
Mbeki who arrived back in South Africa early Friday after a four-day visit to the United States and Germany, has endured months of negative publicity.
In May, a group of leading black businessmen accused the media of promoting a right-wing campaign against the President.
The group, which paid for a full-page advertisement in the mass-circulation 'Sunday Times', accused the media of waging an apartheid-style disinformation campaign against Mbeki and many black business leaders.
The 11 authors of the statement said the campaign against Mbeki has been "so vicious, so underhand and so sustained" that even fair-minded, patriotic whites have started asking serious questions about the motives behind these attacks.
South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) chairman Mathatha Tsedu said his organisation was not aware of any organised grouping within its membership which was orchestrating a campaign against Mbeki.
"The language used, which brings together a myriad of political forces to share a common political goal of denigrating Mbeki and his government, as well as black leadership generally, lends itself to a dismissive attitude," he said.
Last year five senior black editors said the country's media was still dominated by powerful white interests who had no real commitment to transformation.
The journalists, all members of the Black Editor's Forum, said the country's powerful media bosses were simply paying lip service to affirmative action and rectifying the wrongs of the past while a cabal of white editors wielded most of the power.
Human Rights Commission chairman Barney Pityana said racism in the media had become more explicit since 1994 because it was no longer disguised by apartheid and certain parts of the media were still fostering discrimination.

29 june 2001 16:05:00




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