Faizel Patel – 14/09/2020
President Cyril Ramaphosa has commended the sterling work of the media and journalists in reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ramaphosa was addressing the nation in his weekly newsletter “From the Desk of the President”.
The president says while the coronavirus pandemic has required the limitation of many civil liberties and put social cohesion to the test across the globe, countries with strong institutions, vigilant judicial systems and a robust media have been able to prevent human rights from being undermined and the authority of the state being abused.
Ramaphosa says the media is a unique entity in any society because its practitioners fulfil a role that is so essential to our democratic order and that they work to keep the public informed and to keep power in check.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to South Africa’s hardworking and tenacious journalists. They have kept our people informed by disseminating key health messages about social distancing and hygiene. They have done so under extremely trying conditions, often with limited resources.”
Ramaphosa emphasized that the media have also shone a light on excesses that perhaps would not have ordinarily come to light.
Ramaphosa says as a society the country owes the media their full support.
“They have fulfilled their watchdog role by unearthing acts of corruption and maladministration, sparking a massive national debate and leading to a number of high-profile investigations. Through this reporting they have earned people’s trust.”
He says the coronavirus crisis has hit our media houses hard adding that the job losses that have resulted from the lockdowns have exacerbated a crisis for media companies already facing challenges, an issue that was raised sharply during his engagement with the South African National Editors’ Forum last week
Ramaphosa stressed that the loss of even a single journalist is not just a loss to the industry but to the entire country.
Meanwhile, Radio Islam International was commended by a number of industry players last week for its interview with Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize which set the news agenda for the day and was also picked up by many mainstream media organisations.
During the interview, Dr Mkhize told the station that President Cyril Ramaphosa was expected to provide an update to the nation about the current COVID-19 status in the country and possibly move the country to level one of the lockdown.