Editorial: Media freedom is sacrosanct, Mr Ramaphosa

ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa makes a valid point about the abuse of intelligence services to influence the outcome of the ANC’s succession race.

It is all too familiar for people in the ANC political space and was manifest in the run-up to the party’s 2007 conference in Polokwane.

Ramaphosa spoke after the Sunday Independent ran a story last weekend about his alleged numerous affairs.

What disturbed him was that the story was based on an invasion of his private emails, which he believes only the intelligence community could have had access to.

At City Press, we have repeatedly cautioned how crime intelligence and the Hawks have abrogated their core responsibilities and gone rogue. They are focusing on their internal battles and are being used by politicians.

However, we wish to take issue with how Ramaphosa handled the matter.

As one of the architects of the Constitution, he need not be reminded of freedom of the press. As the Johannesburg High Court taught him, he had the right to seek legal recourse if he felt the story impugned his dignity.

But his last-minute move to try to stop the newspaper from printing the story was ill-advised.

It is the most extreme measure anyone can resort to because of a grievance with the media. No wonder it was thrown out of court. Instead of responding to questions, Ramaphosa or his aides approached the owner of Independent Newspapers and sought his intervention.

He was bringing his weight as deputy president (and possible future president) to bear on a newspaper proprietor. It was wrong on many levels. We hope Ramaphosa, who has promised to fix a lot in this country should he become president, has learnt from this experience.

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