Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) 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.

Election coverage for the day (26 March) was fragmented, with the limelight going to the Dalai Lama snub story. While this story has clear party-political ramifications, these have not yet been explored widely. The Zuma NPA case has also made headlines, but less so than previously (although it was covered in various stories in The Times).

The cream of the coverage has still gone to ANC. However, much of it is critical coverage, with Dandala’s comments about South Africa becoming like Zimbabwe appearing in two stories.

Two stories in the day’s coverage offer an interesting comparison. Christelle Therreblanche did a feature in The Star (p. 19) on how ANC will restructure government after the elections, following a reported decision by the ANC National Executive Committee. This may have something to do with a comment by Matthews Phosa, covered in the Sowetan the previous day. In this article, like much other coverage in both TV and print, the ANC is seen to be distancing itself from decisions made by Thabo Mbeki.

The second article, an opinion piece by Rhoda Kadalie, in Business day p. 9 would dispute this. It argued that the Zuma presidency, from various indications, would be much like the Mbeki presidency, choosing profit over principle (Dalai Lama decision) and shielding, rather than rooting out corruption (travelgate scandal). Unlike many other news items, this piece explores the deliberate distancing of Zuma from Mbeki’s presidency.

In not interrogating, but rather repeating statements (presumably by ANC) distancing the current ANC leadership from Mbeki, the coverage has in some cases done the campaigning for the ANC. These statements have been found in various stories, notably in coverage of the reintegration of Khutsong with Gauteng.