Safrea approaches SAHRC over journalists' licences

Johannesburg - The SA Freelancers' Association (Safrea) will approach the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) regarding a proposal to "license" journalists, the organisation said on Wednesday.

Safrea chairperson Clive Lotter said the statements made by SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng in this regard were "an assault on South African democracy".

The Safrea would immediately lay a complaint with the SAHRC should such a proposal ever become law.

Lotter said such a policy would limit the public's access to information and right to free expression.

"The right to freedom of expression includes freedom of the press and other media. That right is enshrined in the South African Bill of Rights in Chapter Two of the SA Constitution," he said.

Motsoeneng said recently he would make a formal submission to Communications Minister Faith Muthambi that journalists have "a licence to practice".

He said there must be consequences for journalists "who mess up".

Lotter said licensing would erode journalists' right to report the news without fear or favour, particularly in view of Motsoeneng's stated preference for "good news" stories at the SABC.

Lotter said existing media outlets were well positioned to determine whether journalists working for them were acting professionally.

Lotter added that licensing would create a small elite of journalists who alone would be deemed worthy of reporting on South African society.

"In reality, we each have the right to write, report and express opinion on our political and social situation. We encourage Mr Motsoeneng and government to abandon this idea as it is fundamentally unworkable and at odds with the spirit of democratic South Africa," said Lotter.


Bernd Kankowski 2014-07-30 09:57:53 PM
It is just a way of trying to control journalists to only write Zuma's so called good story. Once again unqualified people are put into important positions and it didn't take long for them to expose themselves as individuals out of their depth. The rot continues. Journalists should be able to write about anything and expose the corrupt practises of the corrupt ANC government.
Skosana Mafika 2014-07-30 10:01:17 PM
Can somebody advise this grade 11 graduate to shut up,
King Zamo Ngubane 2014-07-30 10:30:40 PM
Whats wrong with licensing? Journalists who write nonsense in the name of freedom of media must face consequences.
Laphum'ilanga KwaMpangela 2014-07-30 10:46:33 PM
Somebody make me understand how this is a human rights issue. How is it different from, say Doctors, requiring a professional licence and being held to particular standards in order to practice. Journalists inform public discourse and surely they must be held to certain standards. I do not see what is so sinister in that.
Ryan Donald 2014-07-30 11:04:41 PM
Good job and thank you It seems we are going backwards in South Africa
Ryan Donald 2014-07-30 11:10:56 PM
Journalism is a voice to the uneducated like yourselves who don't understand this privilege it is a profession unlike medicine and the human anatomy that gives a unbiased generally honest opinion if done right It also allows transparency to you the public from your leaders who cheat lie and steal from you Basically it helps give you a more educated choice
Bento Maepa 2014-07-31 03:56:43 AM
The major conflict between freedom of speech or media and the journalist licensing law is that government will decide what is and what is not good news and on the basis of that journalists licences will be suspended or withdrawn. The eventual scenario is that only pro ANC or government journalists will be the ones left in the media - eg New Age, SABC. No more to hear about Nkandla, Hlaudi Motsoeneng and Thandi Modise stories.
Raymond Kok 2014-07-31 05:50:14 AM
we are firmly on our way to zim type of goverment so strap on your seat belts and hold on tight
Laurence Weyers 2014-07-31 07:46:25 AM
How can some grade 11 person decide that a journalist with a university degree should need a license. How immature. If the politicians, starting eith Zuma would be more forthcoming, honest and trustworthy, journalists wouldn't have to be " investigative".