Archibald Cox

THE MEDIA APPEALS TRIBUNAL vs. FREEDOM OF THE PRESS AND INFORMATION

The struggle is about power and those in power always want to have more power. South Africa will be the first country to have, in place, a media tribunal if the proposed information bill passes as is. Constitutional law expert Archibald Cox, drawing from the experiences of his country, the United States of America, says a free, self-governing people needs full information concerning the activities of its government not only to shape views of policy and vote in elections, but also to compel the government, its agent, to act responsively and account for its doings.

We come from a past in which we were denied the facts and prevented from communicating with each other in ways necessary for self-government and where the racist Apartheid government had the absolute power of censorship. The press was not free; we could not speak, write, and engage in political discourse and activities without fear of reprisal. After sixteen years of relative press freedom, the ruling ANC, SACP and ANCYL want to take us back to those dark days of oppression. Some government officials who have been engaging in malfeasance and corruption are calling for the establishment of a media tribunal to curb leaks that exposes corrupt activities.

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