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Why has land reform slipped off the political agenda in 2019?

Media Monitoring Africa, a leading media research organisation in Africa, today launched the second in a series of reports analysing the coverage of the 2019 National Elections in South Africa. You can find the full report here.

5 days ago, South Africans went to the polls to cast their ballot in the 2019 National and Provincial Elections. With an unprecedented 48 political parties contesting on the national ballot, choices for political representation were extensive. The challenge of ensuring a democratic, robust and free election is not just about preparing a suitable number of voting stations or publishing the right number of ballot papers. It also lies in ensuring that the information that the electorate receive boasts integrity, credibility and quality. Without accurate, insightful and balanced news, the ability of voters to cast their ballot with an appropriate level of knowledge for the task at hand hangs in the balance. Media therefore have a key role to play in facilitating the type of informed decision-making required for every potential voter to mark their ballot, as they see fit.

To hold the media accountable to these high level principles, Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) has analysed the media coverage of elections over the past two months. This research report is the second in a series of analyses that unpacks the quality of media coverage in the 2019 elections period. While this report specifically focuses on the quality of reporting in April, we also chose to deep-dive into how the much contested issue of land reform has been captured in these elections. Critically, we see how land reform was covered in only a handful of stories in the monitoring period, and with many parties using land as a key campaign tool, we ask: Why has land reform slipped off the political agenda in 2019? We also see how politicized mainstream media narratives remain as political issues, such as party campaigning, remain the most common subject of elections stories. For the first time, though, we begin to see a citizens’ agenda emerge with citizens’ voices climbing to the second spot of the second most accessed voices.

The final report examining all elections coverage from March – May 2019 will be released in early June.

For more information, please feel free to contact Sarah Findlay on (011) 788 1278 or on sarahf@mma.org.za

Read our previous elections reports here