‘Governments use technology to suppress public views’

Jay Naidoo says the attacks on media freedom cannot be viewed in isolation.

#EWNDebate: Ranjeni Munusamy, Eusebius McKaiser, Professor Adam Habib, Leslie Sedibe, Jay Naidoo & Katy Katopodis. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Former Cabinet Minister Jay Naidoo says media freedom and the protest by journalists in the gallery during the State of the Nation Address should be viewed in a global context which reflects similar attacks on democratic institutions.

Naidoo took part in an EWN debate on media freedom in Johannesburg on Wednesday and said governments across the world were using technology to suppress the public's views.

In South Africa, media houses approached the courts to ensure that cellphone signals would not be jammed, and Parliament's broadcast feed wouldn't be manipulated in the future.

Naidoo said the attacks on media freedom could not be viewed in isolation.

"What's happening? The issue of media freedom has to be seen in a broader context. Civic space and political space across the world is under attack. But our governments are seen to be using repression."

Meanwhile, political commentator Eusebius McKaiser said South Africa should not measure the state of its democracy against its processes, but rather the tolerance of a democratic culture.

"It's not good enough to say we hit the criteria to be a democracy from be a formal point of view. Democratic culture is what's important. And the absolute nightmare of last Thursday is that it exposed the fact that democracy is not yet deeply entrenched as a form of political culture in South Africa."