Media Monitoring Africa has monitored every democratic election in South Africa. This year we are doing the same, providing daily and weekly reports on media coverage of election news, as well as MMA’s Election Media Ratings.

Top elections stories for Thursday 12 March are:

1.  The signing of the agreement to abide by the IEC code of conduct.  :
• Beeld, p. 4;
• Business day, p. 3;
• Sowetan, p.9;
• The Citizen, p.3;
• The Star, p. 11; and,
• The Times, p. 4;
While much attention and air time was afforded to the various parties signing the code of conduct, the conduct of party supporters was not discussed.  It is plausible that supporters may feel they are not bound by the agreement, which could lead to violence and intimidation.  Some articles mentioned that the ANC had already been accused of contravening the IEC code of conduct but no action had been taken.  Much of the coverage for the day either pictured or quoted Zuma.

2. The order of the ballot:
• Beeld, p. 4;
• Daily Sun, p. 3;
• The Citizen, p. 4; and
• The Star, p.1.
In much of the stories on the ballot and the order thereof, the Movement Democratic Party, which tops the ballot was mentioned as a ‘new kid on the block’ or ‘little-known’.  While the party may indeed be new, and while it may not win many seats in the coming elections, its placement at the top of the ballot offered a clear opportunity for media to inform readers, listeners and viewers about the party, what it stands for, who it seeks to present and where it comes from.

The amount of coverage afforded to political heavyweights Jacob Zuma and Helen Zille is often at the costs of coverage of the smaller parties.  The is that the ‘little-known’ smaller parties are likely to remain unknown.  While media have a clear obligation to cover the key political figures, and while the ANC is expected to garner the majority of election coverage the media has a key role to play in informing its audiences about the lesser known political parties as well, so that voters can make informed decisions on the 22nd.  SABC 3 news, covered rallys of the ID and ACDP, in addition to the ANC.
For more information please contact Sandra Roberts on 084 9000 344 or 011 788 1278 or William Bird on 082 887 1370.
The Daily Reports are made possible by the Open Society Foundation.
Media Monitoring Africa is acting as impartial observer of the SABC’s elections coverage.

The following media are reviewed in the compilation of this report: Beeld, Daily Sun, e-tv primetime news, SABC 3 primetime news, Sowetan, The Citizen, The Star, and The Times.