17 March 2015
The Department of Communications condemns in the strongest terms the decision by the Western Cape Provincial government not to renew subscriptions to the Cape Times newspaper.
This decision is not in the interest of South Africa and will only serve to weaken media freedom. It is particularly troubling given our long and painful history of media censorship and media repression.
When our Constitution was finally adopted the right to freedom of expression and freedom of the media was entrenched to ensure that never again would a free media be subject to restrictions in our nation.
Freedom of expression is an indispensable element of a democratic society; it makes democracy possible as it enables citizens to form and share opinions and thus enhances human dignity and autonomy.
Freedom of expression allows citizens to add to the national conversation without fear of being censored where views differ to the government of the day.
Sadly the Western Cape Provincial government has trampled on this hard won freedom by dictating which media may and may not be consumed. They have implemented a crude form and censorship and have removed the freedom to choose from provincial department heads.
The directive by the Director-General of the Western Cape, advocate Brent Gerber, to provincial departments to not renew their subscriptions of the Cape Times newspaper is deeply troubling. This directive is not in keeping with the spirit of our democracy and it flies in the face of the freedom to receive or impart information or ideas as entrenched in the Bill of Rights.
South Africa is blessed to have a strong and robust media who have taken on the watchdog role and use the right of freedom of expression to point out shortcomings in society and Government.
In cases where the media has erred there are avenues of recourse. The Western Cape government could simply have approached the editor of the newspaper or lodged a complaint with the office of the Press Ombudsman to express their concerns.
Instead they have chosen to boycott the Cape Times. The actions of the Western Cape government amount to an abuse of power. We dare not return to a time when the media is placed under siege simply for doing its work and reporting without fear or favour.
Cell: 061 488 0634
Issued by: Ministry Of Communications