Govt 'won't muzzle media'
President Jacob Zuma will meet editors soon to assure them that the government has no plan to curb press freedom, cabinet spokesman Themba Maseko tells reporters.
President Jacob Zuma's government has no plan to restrict press freedom, chief government spokesman Themba Maseko said.
Briefing reporters on Wednesday's cabinet meeting, Maseko said Collins Chabane, the minister of performance monitoring, would arrange an urgent meeting "sooner rather than later" between Zuma, key ministers, editors and media owners.
He said the government wanted the media to understand the context of recent events that have been widely read as a clampdown on press freedom and "to know where we are coming from".
"There is no intention or plan to muzzle the media in any shape or form," Maseko said.
"The government does not see the media as enemies," he said.
He said the cabinet had not been aware during its meeting of the simultaneous arrest of Sunday Times investigative reporter Mzilikazi wa Afrika at the newspaper's Johannesburg office and had not discussed it.
But he acknowledged that the arrest coming on top of the controversial Protection of Information Bill and the ANC's campaign for a media appeals tribunal could create the impression that a crackdown was under way.
"It is unhealthy for a perception to exist that government is on a mission to muzzle the media in any shape or form," he said.
Maseko said he could not give any commitment that the government would be ready to revise its plans, but added that previous meetings with editors had led to policy amendments in the past.