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Minister slams media for chanting 'bring back the signal'

Bathabile Dlamini says journalists undermined Parliamentary decorum by chanting during Sona.

After walking out of Parliament, DA Parliamentary Leader Mmusi Maimane issued statements to the media condemning the speaker's actions as unconstitutional. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini has criticised journalists covering last week's State of the Nation Address (Sona) in Cape Town, saying they undermined Parliamentary decorum by chanting 'bring back the signal'.

Cellphone reception was cut off ahead of President Jacob Zuma's address and journalists turned to Parliamentary officials for an explanation.

When the signal was not restored, editors and journalists began chanting.

The minister has singled out Primedia's Yusuf Abramjee, saying he was out of line when chanting with other journalists for the signal to be restored.

"I would also like Mr Abramjee to reflect on his own actions within Parliament on the night of Sona."

Dlamini says journalists know exactly which words to use.

"[They chanted] in a way that aligned themselves to other political parties."

The minister says her tweets to Abramjee and editors were not threats.

Abramjee has not taken the matter further.

'CONSPIRACY THEORY'

As questions remain over the jamming of the cellphone signal, some cabinet ministers say the allegations are nothing more than a conspiracy theory.

The International Cooperation, Trade and Security (ICTS) cluster held a briefing in Parliament on Sunday, to elaborate on plans mentioned in Sona.

But the focus quickly turned to the chaos that preceded the president's speech.

Ministers in the cluster all agreed that the signal jamming was a mere technical glitch.

International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana Mashabane says it's not uncommon.

"Technical glitches happen everywhere. We all want to know what happened and let's take it easy."

Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom says he was equally surprised not to have signal.

"Spokesperson Zizi Kodwa made it very clear that the ANC was not happy with what appeared to be a signal jamming."

Media houses now want to take the matter to court, saying the signal was definitely jammed.