Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu this week revived a hoary old policy chestnut. Releasing the ANC’s discussion document on communication, he revived the party’s criticism of media self-regulation.

The bitter irony is that he used the example of newspapers belonging to the Independent Media stable — The Star, Cape Times and Argus — because they had decided not to subject themselves to the voluntary system of the press ombudsman.

"Parliament must urgently undertake an inquiry into how to regulate the media," he said. "We would like to show parliament how self-regulation has failed."

What is curious is what Mthembu describes as the root cause of the ANC’s unhappiness with the media: "The print media hardly recognises achievements we do make in terms of economic or social progress."

Is this the same Mthembu who said ANC president Jacob Zuma was speaking "plain rubbish" when he questioned Pravin Gordhan’s loyalty on the basis of an "intelligence report"?

On that occasion, Mthembu had nothing positive to say.

Once forced by an "independent" regulator to write a story of achievement and glory, the media might find itself in great difficulty.

Perhaps an article could begin: "ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu has proved how free and open parliament is by laying into President Jacob Zuma in public and intimating he is corrupt."

Not good enough? How about this then: "ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu has sought to improve the incorruptibility of the president of the country by pointing out how certain of his actions might — mistakenly — be construed to suggest that he may (wrongly) be seen to have been called corrupt. Or not."

This is the problem with political parties seeking to regulate the media — it can only end in political correctness.

Please sign in or register to comment.