South African Government Trying To Pass New Law To Muzzle The Press

from the free-speech-be-damned dept

Kevin Donovan points us to news of a proposed media law in South Africa that could seriously muzzle the press by letting the government easily declare certain information to be in the “national interest,” and then setting potential jail sentences of 3 to 25 years to anyone who reveals that information. What’s got people scared is how broadly defined “national interests” are: “all matters relating to the advancement of the public good” and “the survival and security of the state.” Is reporting on corruption in the government potentially against “the survival and security of the state”? Possibly. And with the press revealing some scandals recently, the government hasn’t been too happy:

But fears about the government’s motives have flared since Aug. 4, when a Sunday Times reporter, Mzilikazi wa Afrika, was arrested on fraud charges. Days earlier, he and another reporter had written a front-page article reporting that the national police chief, Bheki Cele, had approved what the paper called a suspicious property deal with a politically connected businessman without competitive bidding.

The newspaper and Mr. wa Afrika said he was seized by officers who had no warrant for his arrest, even though he was on his way to turn himself in, and he was not provided access to his lawyer for hours. The police searched his home, he said, taking his reporting notebooks. During questioning the following morning, the police asked him if he had been trying to discredit senior A.N.C. officials, he said.

The article does admit that some of the reporting on the government has been sloppy at best, but that’s hardly an excuse to potentially create a massive press censorship policy.

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Comments on “South African Government Trying To Pass New Law To Muzzle The Press”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Corruption Causes Poverty

The reason why the Third World is the Third World (that is, dirt poor) is criminality. Any economist will tell you that the fundamental cause of an economy performing poorly is poor capital formation. That in turn is caused by bad guys stealing the money which should have been invested in capital goods — that is, growing the economy. So the economy stays at a low level, thereby causing widespread poverty. Politically well-connected criminals always demand censorship to hide their own bad behaviour. That is why no politician can ever be trusted with any kind of censorship system. It will always get abused.

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