Steven Tau
3 minute read
2 Apr 2017
1:06 pm

Mthembu says ANC will get media to behave itself

Steven Tau

Jackson Mthembu came out swinging on Sunday morning against the media's approach to reporting.

FILE PICTURE: Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu. Picture: Neil McCartney.

Chairperson of the ANC national executive committee (NEC) subcommittee on communications Jackson Mthembu says very little good work done by government ever gets reported by the media.

Addressing the media on the ANC NEC subcommittee on communications on the “communication and battle of ideas” discussion document ahead of the party’s policy conference in June, Mthembu said some in the media were too focused on negative reporting.

He said he was always told that news articles could not be written about those in government who were doing their jobs as expected because “you can’t praise a fish for swimming”. But when someone did something wrong, he said it appeared that journalists wrote about that person “as if they have never swam [sic]”.

He refused to be drawn into commenting on the recent Cabinet reshuffle by President Jacob Zuma, saying the national leadership, of which he is also a member, as he sits on the NEC, will respond on the matter in due course.

He stressed the policy document did not speak about the reshuffle. Mthembu, however, on a personal level, has already tweeted about his concerns surrounding the reshuffle and his in the past been openly critical of Zuma.

He said it was the president’s prerogative to “appoint and disappoint”.

Commenting on the discussion document, Mthembu said they wanted to take everybody on board before policies were changed. Mthembu said the ruling party planned to meet with ANC and alliance structures.

“Before the elective conference in December, we want to make sure that we should by then have consulted with everyone in the country,” he said. On communication, Mthembu said government was not communicating as well as it should.

He stressed that improved communication tools were also key when it came to service delivery issues. He said the ANC should prepare digitally to strengthen communication with members of the public.

“We also want the digitisation of government services to be fast-tracked because we don’t want those brown envelopes at police stations to dissappear. We also want the Post Bank to be digitised, which also helps in the payments and distribution of social grants,” Mthembu said.

On the SABC, Mthembu welcomed the interm board which started its work on Sunday.

“We believe they have the capacity to turn the public broadcaster around and we will give them the support they need,” Mthembu said.

He said not enough support had been given to community media, particularly community radio.

Mthembu said a lot of work still needed to be done for print media, saying some were still getting away with murder by deliberately writing false and factually incorrect articles.

He slammed the current system of self-regulation, which he claimed clearly does not work and said it was unacceptable that apologies for front-page inaccuracies only appeared later “on page 6”, while those wishing to sue media companies “need very deep pockets”, which intimidated the victims of sloppy or false reporting.

Mthembu told the gathered journalists that the ANC would be taking steps to regulate the media not only for the sake of the ANC, which never saw its good work reported, but on behalf of all South Africans.