19 October 2021
The Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) joins South Africa’s media industry in commemorating the 44th anniversary of Black Wednesday, a day set aside to reflect on and discuss media freedom. South African history bears testament to the need for ongoing discussions on media freedom and the realization of the critical role media plays in strengthening democracy.
On 19 October 1977, the apartheid government banned independent media in an attempt to hide gag the media from reporting about the brutal acts of the regime. In particular, The World and Weekend World were banned. The editor of The World, Percy Qoboza, who became the editor of City Press in 1984, was taken into detention along with other journalists.
GCIS Director General, Phumla Williams, said: “The media is an important partner and stakeholder of government and the GCIS confirms its commitment to upholding media freedom. The GCIS welcomes regular interactions with the media and formations such as SANEF, the Press Club and the Press Gallery to share ideas and information of issues of national importance. We will continue to further strengthen these relations and cement the importance of independence of the media. The work of the media reflect on the government and is a measure of how our society is functioning, and government’s commitment to democracy and socioeconomic development. Since the advent of democracy South Africa enjoys a free press, anchored on the foundations of the Constitution. The freedom of the press must be respected and guarded at all times.”
This year’s Black Wednesday coincides with South Africa’s drive to vaccinate the population against COVID-19 so that the sense of normalcy can return and the economy can grow. The press has been at the forefront since the start of COVID-19 and is a key platform in conveying credible and factual information about COVID-19 to the public.
South Africans are urged to get their information from bona fide media and credible sources and shun fake news and misinformation, which seeks to derail the country’s efforts to fight the pandemic.
Williams added: “any form of threat to the freedom of the media, is an attack on our democracy, therefore, we all play a role in protecting our hard fought for democracy. Government also thanks all the journalists who have worked tirelessly to ensure the public is kept abreast of the developments related to the pandemic and remember those that have lost their lives, whilst bringing the stories to our homes.”
Cell: 083 501 0139