Media Monday - hot topics and topics that make us hopping mad! 5 December 2011

Posted: 5 December 2011 | News - Newsletter | Categories: Democracy and Governance, HIV and AIDS, Media Freedom and Performance

On the menu this Media Monday:

·         Zille’s HIV/AIDS stance shifting focus from pandemic

·         Jackie Selebi: finish and klaar

·         Is media still on Mbeki vs. Zuma match-up?

·         Your 2012 Media Wish: Part Two…

Has Zille shifted media’s much-needed focus on the HIV/AIDS pandemic? 

December 1 is commemorated as World Aids Day and this year was no different. Whether or not the media reported widely on the day and the issue of HIV/Aids will be decided on by you as a media consumer. We would really like to hear your thoughts on the media’s coverage of World Aids Day: was it enough; was it informative; was it in-depth, did it cover the most important aspects?? And most importantly, was the coverage on the pandemic itself and as a national and international problem, or was the media focused more on political figures and messages? It is this issue that we want to look at…

Western Cape Premier and Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille has been on many people’s lips as a result of her comments around HIV/Aids. This began well before World Aids Day when she was quoted to have been targeting men in the fight against the pandemic. Is this not supposed to be a problem faced by the whole nation and world irrespective of gender, Premier? Instead of making HIV/Aids a men problem and accusing men of infecting women, the appeal should be made to all of us to be safe and stop spreading the pandemic. Women are also responsible for HIV/Aids infections. For instance, a few months ago an article from one community newspaper in Limpopo Province did the rounds, about a girl who said that she gave men Aids. A Krugersdorp medical doctor has also accused his wife of infecting him with HIV a few months ago, the media reported.

We do not aim to make it a gender issue though, but the interesting thing about the latter case is that the doctor had reportedly laid a criminal charge (attempted murder, to be specific) against his wife. This leads us back to Helen Zille, who reportedly called for the criminalisation of HIV infection in cases where HIV-positive people knowingly have unprotected sex with others, infecting them in the process. She wrote in her party’s newsletter that people like that “must be prepared to face criminal charges”. Add to that, Zille’s campaign encouraging people to undergo HIV testing by being entered into a R50 000 lucky draw. A campaign condemned by others, we should add.

The sad thing about all this though, is that the media’s attention seems to have shifted from the problem that is HIV/AIDS to personalities and their utterances. The fight against HIV/AIDS is being reduced to political parties and campaigns, and some media do not seem to be doing much to redirect attention back to the problem at hand, by lending itself to be a battleground to these personalities.

Should the media be playing this game? Is the media not helping transmission of HIV/AIDS stigmas and stereotypes by focusing too much on who said what and who responded? Give us your views on media’s coverage of HIV/AIDS on Facebook and Twitter, and tell us how you would like to see the media cover the pandemic. We would like to hear from you…

Is Selebi really attempting a “Shaik” on us? 

The media’s ability to hold leaders accountable is unquestionable as seen for example in the Sunday Times’ resilient reports on corruption which saw President Jacob Zuma axe two cabinet ministers and suspending Police Commissioner. There is no doubt that the media also wants to see necessary action taken and justice prevails regarding former Police Chief Jackie Selebi.

Selebi was found guilty of corruption  and was sentenced to 15 years behind bars; a conviction for which he was granted leave to appeal. The appeal was dismissed a few days ago, meaning Selebi had 48 hours to report to prison and begin his 15-year sentence.

“Selebi: finish and klaar” was on SABCNews @7 on SABC 3 following Selebi’s appeal’s dismissal. Reportedly on learning the outcome of the appeal Mr Selebi became ill and was hospitalized. Some media reported that he suffered a stroke, and today his legal team is attempting to stop him from going to prison as he is ill; a move many believe is Selebi’s attempt at pulling a Shabir Shaik on the nation.

The media looks set to see Selebi go straight to prison though, sick or not. The media attention this has generated is huge and no stone is left unturned as all, including the media, waits to see whether the state will let him off the hook citing medical reasons, as was the case with Shaik. (REMINDER: Shaik was released on medical parole due to terminal illness following a fraud conviction, but still lives on).

Is this another case of the media trying to make sure that justice prevails? A case of media making sure that no loophole is created while we are looking away, resulting in Selebi avoiding jail? Or do the media have some sort of an agenda with Selebi? What do you think? And what if Selebi really is sick? What should happen, and what will happen, and what should the media be telling us? What happens to less high profile criminals?

Is the Zuma-Mbeki showdown still on? 

In a “no-holds-barred” interview with the City Press, President Zuma’s latest recruit Advocate Willem Heath pits Mbeki against Zuma again. Don’t the media just love controversy and factionalism? Heath openly expresses his unhappiness with the previous (former President Thabo Mbeki’s) government, and with him being Zuma’s recruit as new Special Investigations Unit (SIU) boss, it comes as no surprise that he sings Zuma’s praises.

Heath accuses Mbeki of initiating rape charges against Zuma, and says that Shabir Shaik and Tony Yengeni were sacrificed by Mbeki’s government.

Whether or not Heath brought back the Mbeki vs Zuma battle himself in the interview, or City Press directed him on that route, the fact is this was the focus of the interview published. Is Heath telling the truth; is the validity of his accusations (and evidence) questioned by the paper; is his bitterness with Mbeki being questioned and possibly the source of his allegations?

Question is: are we ever going to move away from Zuma-Mbeki controversy? Is the media feeding this aspect or merely reporting what needs to be addressed? Does everything that goes on in the current government have to be compared to the previous one; and every appointment related to in terms of whether one was a firm favourite of Mbeki and was ousted due to that to be replaced by a Zuma fan?

Moving along to the accusations Heath levels against Mbeki, evidence of which he refuses to give: is this just another example of what we can expect under the Protection of State Information Bill? Is that evidence ever going to see light of day, or is it just going to be mentioned once in a while in other “no-holds-barred interviews” like this one? Will the “secrecy bill” allow such evidence to be made public? Give us your thoughts on Heath’s interview (and the questions raised here) via Facebook and Twitter

Your "2012 Media Wish" for Media Freedom 

It is that time of the year again when we reflect back on the year that has been and look at some of stories that caused quite a stir around the country. It goes without saying that media freedom did become one of the most prominent talking points in 2011, not only in media circles but across sectors nationwide.

The debate was characterised dominated especially by the controversial Protection of State Information Bill, dubbed “Secrecy Bill” by some. As we blog, the Bill still is a major talking point following it being voted in recently in the National Assembly amid widespread condemnation, and sections of society are still building themselves up for more fighting against the Bill as it is not over yet.

Now last week we launched in our Media Monday Bulletin what we called “Your 2012 Media Wish” where, based on the events we had in 2011, we look ahead to 2012 and call on you to tell us what your media wish is for next year.

Last week we asked what your 2012 Media wish was for the embattled public broadcaster, the SABC. Based on the introduction above, this week we ask you: What is your 2012 Media Wish for Media Freedom? Facebook or Tweet us your media freedom wishes for 2012…