ANC wants ‘total control’ of media to kill Freedom of Speech, says NASPERS Chairman.
In a recent speech at the Cape Town Press Club, Ton Vosloo, the long standing outgoing Chairman of Naspers (Media24), Africa’s largest media organisation stated emphatically the threat that the ANC regime poses to freedom of speech. He first voiced this opinion back in 1993.
This was ironic to say the least, given that the huge majority of Naspers’ recent good fortune comes from the country, China, which has no regard for freedom of speech or human rights. Does this put Naspers on a collision course with itself? Or has this already tainted Naspers’ vision given the accusations of bias leveled against it by at least 23,000 people of the Boikot Naspers group?
“The South African press is facing huge pressure from the ruling ANC, which wants “total control” of the media,” says the chairman of the continent’s largest media company.
“Government and the ANC, through its national democratic revolution (NDR), want total control,” Naspers chairman Ton Vosloo told the Cape Town Press Club.
“Our free and independent press and media will be facing huge challenges in the not-too-distant future in preserving the very freedom they enjoy to speak out against the erosion of this freedom, corruption and other ills.”
South Africa’s ANC-led government has been regularly criticised in recent years for attacks on the press, particularly after pushing a much-derided secrecy bill through parliament. It is yet to be signed into law by President Jacob Zuma, but would make many aspects of investigative journalism a crime.
The ANC ‘does not like a free and independently owned press’
The party, meanwhile, has repeatedly called on South Africa’s media to racially transform their ownership. But Vosloo said most companies already had significant black ownership.
“All in all, those who complain about transformation should have a good look at the facts,” he said.
“My answer to the complaints (is) the ANC does not like a free and independently owned press.”
Vosloo worked as a journalist and newspaper editor before joining Naspers management in 1984. Since then, the company has diversified from print to pay television, e-commerce and mobile services. It generated 62.7 billion rand ($15 billion) in revenue in the last financial year.
Vosloo retires from his position as chair in April 2015, when former CEO Koos Bekker will take on the role. This is not the first time Vosloo has warned against the ANC. In 1993, he told the Rhodes Journalism Review the party would turn out as bad as the apartheid government.
“When the real pressures are on, they’re going to behave as badly as the Nats (National Party) did,” he said at the time. “Never trust a politician. That’s my motto.”