JOHANNESBURG, November 14 – The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) on Tuesday called on the eThekwini Council to drop the proposed new rules of order which may see journalists barred from certain meetings.
Sanef said in a statement it was concerned about the council’s plans to introduce new rules of order which would deny access by reporters to some meetings, as well restrict the use of electronic equipment in filing story updates.
Sanef KwaZulu-Natal convenor Judy Sandison said although discussion of the proposed changes has been deferred to the next council meeting, any attempt to restrict access by the media to important decision-making that affected Durban residents would be an infringement on media freedom.
“There can be no doubt that the restrictions contemplated would be unconstitutional which would result in the council acting illegally,” said Sandison.
She said that the council already had the right to restrict access in certain exceptional circumstances, and that further restrictions would have the end result of reducing the public’s right to know about decisions and information that affected their lives.
When asked what action Sanef will take if their request is ignored, Sandison said: “As Sanef, we don’t want to prejudge but we hope council will do the right thing and not vote to reduce the transparency of council meetings for the public. Easy access to information about council activities is vital for citizens in our democracy.”