PnP speaks out on media freedom

2010-08-18 10:28

Johannesburg - Any attempt by government to restrict the free flow of information or to circumscribe the liberty of the media should be opposed, one of South Africa's largest retailers said on Wednesday.

"Pick n Pay Stores [JSE:PIK] recognises that there is a close link between economic and political freedom and the economic freedom on which business depends flourishes best when citizens are able to rely on an unfettered flow of information that is free from excessive government control and regulation," chairperson Gareth Ackerman said in a statement.

He was referring to a controversial ANC proposal for a media appeals tribunal, and to the Protection of Information Bill.

"To the extent that the Protection of Information Bill and the proposed media appeals tribunal threaten that freedom, all sectors of South African society are justified in opposing them."

Ackerman said the business sector should not believe itself exempt from this duty of responsible citizenship.

"We thus have no hesitation in adding our voices to those who have expressed their misgivings about the consequences of the governing party's proposals."
All the historical evidence spoke unambiguously on the relationship between political freedom and a free market, he said.

"An open society is one in which government is responsive and tolerant, and political mechanisms are transparent and flexible, in which political leaders can be replaced without the need for bloodshed, and in which the rule of law, property rights and freedom of economic initiative are guaranteed."

Ackerman said throughout the world, nations with more economic freedom were wealthier than nations with less economic freedom.

"There are no wealthy nations that have little economic freedom."

For those reasons, any attempt by government to restrict the free flow of information should be opposed.
A better place

"There is no doubt that the South Africa of today is a far, far better place than it was before 1994," Ackerman said.

"We live in a country that is governed not by the unchallengeable dictates of cabinet ministers or security chiefs, but by the entrenched principles of a progressive constitution which binds parliament and citizen alike to a judiciable bill of rights, a free press and an independent judiciary."

Ackerman said the fact that South Africa had escaped its past and had launched itself on a road to prosperity and human rights should  be a matter of great pride.

"But those ethical sensitivities which drove us onwards in the days of apartheid cannot be allowed to slumber contentedly now that liberation has come."

Ackerman said that over its history Pick n Pay had had its own conflicts with the press.
"But we have never lost sight of the fact that the media play an indispensable and valuable role in monitoring the conduct and standards of business and that, however irksome this may occasionally be, that role should never be suppressed or intimidated."

Ackerman said any perceived limitation on media freedom would be negatively viewed by the international markets on which SA relied for investment.

"The positive sentiment generated by the World Cup and the consideration that international business is giving to investing in South Africa makes this all the more important".

Foreign investors required the assurance that SA was serious about combating corruption and waste, that government affairs were transparent and accountable, and that information was readily available and reliable.
"In the absence of these features, South Africa's reputation as a destination for foreign investment will suffer, as will our reputation as a state that is governed by the rules of openness and accessibility," Ackerman said.

  • Thusla - 2010-08-18 10:40

    I hope they are listening, for our sake, our children and country

  • Rikesh Ishwarlall - 2010-08-18 10:45

    The freedom of the Press is entrenched in our constitution. The exposure of corruption and all crime by the vigilance of the Press has served as watchdogs for society at large and in many cases has saved millions of rands in taxpayer's money. Government's proposal must be harshly condemned as this is a step backwards as was the case in the dark days of apartheid. This proposal also deals a crushing blow to future investment in this country. The pen will always be mightier than the sword !

  • napong - 2010-08-18 10:48

    Gareth, it takes no rocket scientist to see where your political allegiances lie. You should concern yourself with PnP transformation and leave politics to people who know politics. All South Africans should oppose PnP, and stop shopping at PnP.

  • RIKESH - 2010-08-18 10:50

    Right On PnP...I agree Fully !

  • Jay - 2010-08-18 10:54

    Sitting behind our keyboards venting our frustrations will solve nothing. We need to join together and remind government they work for us not the other way around!

  • Smanga Zulu - 2010-08-18 11:00

    PnP should stick to selling stuff and let us run the land ....

  • Rich - 2010-08-18 11:00

    Pick n Pay should concentrate on paying their suppliers and focus less on being the good guy in the media. They are a complete joke and hold their suppliers to ransom.

  • Andre - 2010-08-18 11:01

    @Napong. It seems you agree the whole issue is about politics, and whether one support the ANC or not. You're a good cadre Napong, your leader will be proud of you.

  • @ napong - 2010-08-18 11:07

    Judging by your comment it is clear you are naive. Stop hanging around with subversive elements and get out more into the real world so that you can educate yourself.

  • tjarara - 2010-08-18 11:08

    we need a national strike to stop this media oppresion. JornalistS are my heroes! compared to public servants, they go extra miles. government only do other things after they have been exposed by the media. look the Shady SAPS HQ deal, now they are investigating it.

  • Tebza - 2010-08-18 11:29

    Nice one Gareth, couldnt agree with you more, the more this things happen the more I am reminded of that book I read as a child "Animal Farm" we are right now living in that kind of state and if the ANC is not seriously opposed then in about 10 years we are going to have a veru very serious problem

  • Sunuy - 2010-08-18 11:35

    I believe that govt. should privatise the running of the country. I think the job should be given to PnP ... in that way we the people will get good value for money and the country can make a profit as well!

  • Manzee - 2010-08-18 11:37

    I still cant believe there are people on the side of the media. Yes they have uncovered serious corruption, but how many incorrect details have they been feeding the citizens, how many lives have they destroyed by not properly verifying information. EG: they accused Julius of corruption with his engineering company, but after an investigation, it turns out there was no corruption. Will Julius be compensated for this. Im not an ANC fan, but this tribunal makes common sense

  • Hannes from Perth - 2010-08-18 11:37

    I hope other business leaders will also speak out against leadership that is taking South Africa down the Zimbabwe route. Business (and not governent) creaetes jobs and every South Africa sould realise that a sound local business sector is in their interest.

  • @ Smanga Zulu - 2010-08-18 11:41

    You mean ruin, not run.

  • DieBroodplank - 2010-08-18 11:44

    I might be cynical, but any worthy law expert would recognise that the current form of the protection of information bill would not be passed under the constitution. If the ANC, who do have propper law advisors, still continues to push for this bill the question should be why? It makes me think of the same tactics used with the ESKOM tariff hike. It is using the predictive manner of the media to hype panic and doom into the minds of the people, so that when a "LITE" version of the bill is presented it would seem like a very fair deal. A very old sales trick indeed!

  • Bongani x - 2010-08-18 11:46

    The answer to the problem is to have a referedum and let the population decide if the government should be allowed to amend the freedom of information bill. We have a democracy. The ANC must let the public decide what the public wants. The government is the servant of the public.

  • Skeptic - 2010-08-18 11:48

    Very wise words Gareth! @Napong, do you imply that political diversity should not be tolerated?? Everybody in the country has a right to have an opinion, and so does PnP. I am sure that if PnP has embraced this ridiculous proposal, then another opinion would have been expressed by the likes of napong!

  • Muzamana - 2010-08-18 11:49

    The proposed media appeals tribunal, and the Protection of Information Bill by the ruling party is more motivated by the treat which the ruling party have against the freedom of speech. Let the ruling party not dictator us like Zimbabwe. Let us join each other to stop the ruling party from pursuing their plans to enrich them self behind close doors.

  • Melusi - 2010-08-18 11:49

    Napong. Just think - a couple of months even you won't be able to express yourself so openly. Make hay while the sun shines. Smanga - It is just that ignorance which we're all trying to avoid. Without retailers - we have no economy. With no economy - we have no money. With no money we're just like our northern cousins. Please both of you - pull your heads out of the sand and educate yourselves. Name 1 successful country on this planet with no press freedom where the people are not exploited by the "all-important" govt. But - hey - a little disinvestment here and there - and that Land Rover that Malema drives around in starts looking more and more opulent doesn't it?

  • Simon - 2010-08-18 11:49

    Napong its not about where your political allegiances lie, its about human rights. If you see restricting what I and anyone can read or say as a good thing then you are no better than the Nat security police of old or Josef Goebbels. I should decide what I read, what I believe and what I say. NOT YOU OR YOUR ILK.

  • Thandi - 2010-08-18 11:53

    @Napong, why don't you rather be clear about why you support the view of restricting free flow of media. I have some assumptions: - You have something to hide - too - You stand to benefit by someone who has something to hide - You are planning something that will see you benefit from hiding that information - You simply are a sheep and actually believe the garble that comes out of our parliament - You don't actually know how it will cripple investor relations, open free-trade of corruption and push us even further away from a complete democracy I, and I'm sure most, would love to hear an actual sensible reason from someone that supports that view. I think for most we simply just don't understand how you could possibly see a benefit. Please grace us with your enlightenment

  • me - 2010-08-18 11:54

    thats another zimbabwe in the making usually its the voice which is the first to go

  • Sledgehammer - 2010-08-18 11:57

    What about excesses of the media? Surely, there must a way of curbing the media from abusing its power. I fully understand where Ackerman comes from, the so called media freedom, perpetuates the status quo, hence his support. Let's debate this issues, I don't think Ackerman has taken the time to appraise himself with the issues raised by the ANC.

  • Darrel - 2010-08-18 11:58

    It's about time that major companies started standing up to the government and this applies even more so to the general public, when are we going to say "Enough is enough"

  • Pete - 2010-08-18 11:58

    Thats right Napong. Stop shopping at PnP, let PnP close down; all it staff loose their jobs and sit on the street. I can see you are wise and have insight to where the real problems are. The stupid capitalists that give jobs to 100,000s people, should be closed down. What a ass!

  • Wayne - 2010-08-18 12:01

    One should heed the opinions of a company who survived pre 1994 controls and supported transformation whilst at the same time keeping the eye on the ball of good governance and sound fiscal management. Governmental control of the media equals censorship along the lines of pre1994 SA and should be avoided at all costs!. If you don't want bad press then keep your nose clean. Sensationlist media reporting can only flourish in a society that disregards corruption, fraud and poor governance.

  • skr - 2010-08-18 12:02

    @ Napong - economics, politics & business are inextricably linked and interdependent. (are you unaware of the social & politicial storms that are happening in the States because of the economic crisis?) Instead of boycotting PnP, why aren't you condemning this proposed new oppresion by the ANC? Don't you know this is what the NATS tried to do? Don't you remember that banning journalists, censoring the news, torturing and imprisoning activists who published anti-government journals were ALL the tools of a repressive, oppresive government that used any means they could to stop people telling the truth? Don't you realise that, under these proposed new laws, you can be stopped from posting a notice about a meeting to protest lack of service delivery; that a high-school student could be jailed for a student newspaper that criticised a teachers' union? Wake up - you are ready to give away the basic human, social and political freedoms thousands died for. This is OPPRESSION and it is Constitutionally illegal.

  • No Zum-Zum - 2010-08-18 12:02

    As the public we need to stand together and show the gorvenment that it is not above us all. We have elected them and if they are not delivering we have to show our dissatification regardless of which organization we belong to. ANC has taken us for a ride and the only thing that we can do to stop them from implementing such a law is to down everything and let the coountry come to a stand still, then they will not implement their sh@t ideas to try and cover up corruption as they are ll rotten to the core. VIVA FREE MEDIA VIVA

  • Thato - 2010-08-18 12:03

    Freedom of speech is part of all kinds of freedom we fought for. To be a complete free society, we must exercise this freedom. However, there must be some kind of accounability through tribunal for any abuse of speech as much as we oppose the abuse of power from the government and other segments.

  • Ingrid - 2010-08-18 12:04

    PnP you have just convinced me to shop at yours (my choice normally lies between yourself and Checkers). Well done for you the retail giant to oppose government's attempt at blocking information to us, its citizens. Former secretary to a Shoprite director

  • Nathi Dee - 2010-08-18 12:05

    As a corporate citizen PnP has every right to voice their concern. And who in the heck ever told you that politics is reserved for politicians only, napong? This is our country and we have every reason to want to protect it from the corrupt, the greedy and the ignorant.

  • Magapane - 2010-08-18 12:16

    People are loosing focus and clouding issues. The request was for an independent media tribunal which will safeguard the interests of the general public which are transpanrency, accountability and social responsibility on the part of our journos. Now you here people talking about suppression, restriction and Government interferance. An independent body will make sure that does not occure. Lets not allow our emotions and hate for the ANC to interfere with rational thinking. Lets use our brains

  • AFRICAN PESSIMEST - 2010-08-18 12:17

    South Africa is a country in Africa and therefore is no different from the other countries on this countinent who try to stifle press freedom. The ANC government has the majority vote in parliament and therefore will ensure that this new legislation is passed. People opposing this should realise that this is just one step on the road to a entrenched one party state and should start making plans for emmigration!!

  • shrek - 2010-08-18 12:18

    it's getting very intresting, i think all of us have a responsibility to allow a democratic process to flow. the governing party only propose the media tribunal, then we as democratic citizen need to engage with them and differ with them in a democratic way. i dont support the media tribunal but i think we have to allow the democratic process of engagement, this is just an ANC proposal. let them bring on their proposal and we show them why we think the tribunal is not the best option, this is just my 5c view. by the way PnP pls cut down your price of milk asseblief

  • Michael - 2010-08-18 12:20

    Watching Jackson on TV debate on this issue, it clearly showed that the ANC do not want any more negetive interruptions before next election. The present blast on WA Africa is going to produce/expose many in top positions of funny things. BUT on a more serous note - the last government could not stop the media so how on earth will the pansy ANC do it. Web sites will open up and even more dirt will be dumped into these sites and then printed in over seas papers. If one thinks about it clearly, this whole bill is a load of crap and anyone with dirt on corruption etc just has to send it to overseas papers and then printed. Jackson did show his inexperrience last night. he was a stuck record when caught out - very funny.

  • sello - 2010-08-18 12:23

    at least now we know why Pick n Pay failed in australia.Saudi Arabia,Libya etc where there is basically no freedom of speech are far richer than SA. what is he trying to say.....

  • OB1 - 2010-08-18 12:24

    Good on PnP, lets hope other big business is as courageous and adds there voice to this. Those in support of this move to silence the media, have you given thought to what the implications of such laws are, and what happens when the next political party (that may in opposition to yours) takes over and abuses this media muzzling in their favour? You fought for this freedom, why would you now so eagerly give it away to power mungers eager to hide their corruption? don't be foolish.

  • Yebo Gogo - 2010-08-18 12:28

    do you want to be FREE, or do you want to be DOM...FREEDOM !!!

  • Get the Facts - 2010-08-18 12:28

    We live in an information era...ppl make decisions and form opinions based on the information (most provided by journalists). If the press reports incorrectly about a person: their image & dignity gets tarnished: and all the Media Ombudsman can say is just an apology enough for all the losses incurred by a person. Does the media's right to reporting above everyone else's doesn't matter if u a black, white, pink, green or gray but all have a right to be treated with dignity. Media hasnt proved that they self-govern so far...not sure how BCCSA or ICASA has really stopped freedom of us again repporting the issue in a way that makes everyone an enemy and they (MEdia) as saviours that have been made victims....if ppl can read on their own abt media freedom and regulation: and compare to what the media is reporting even now....

  • MPHD - 2010-08-18 12:35

    I'm not sure what PnP is trying, it seems there is a link/relationship between the media and PnP. When was the last time media report about PnP and we know very well that they a sticky issues between PnP and the employees. Mr G Ackerman please stay away from politics you are not a political party you are a retailer. Your comment on national newspapers will have a negative impact on your revenue.

  • pnp=Hypocrites - 2010-08-18 12:39

    Is it not PnP that recently decided to force their own brand of censorship on South Africans by removing certain publications off their shelves? The pot calling kettle black?

  • Carlos - 2010-08-18 12:41

    I don't care if Pnp don't pay whoever. Like all of us they have the right and the duty to voice their opposition to the local Castros and Chaveses. We all know what all demagogues have in store for the country. And we all know how it ends. Just look north...

  • Cynical@Smanga Zulu - 2010-08-18 12:42

    "....and let us run the land...". Ha ha ha your type cannot run 10 metres never mind run the land. I wouldn't trust your type to even run my bath. Suck on THAT, bonehead!

  • Pleb - 2010-08-18 12:46

    Given the questions surrounding Gareth Ackerman's bonus or whatever it was that he got, he should keep quiet. Given the way P 'n P railroaded my dad and illegally fired him, they should keep quiet. They know nothing of ethics or transparency.

  • Annonymous2 - 2010-08-18 12:49

    It is praiseworthy for Mr. Ackerman to stand up and speak up for the freedom. I'll vote for him! Actually, I do vote for him with my vallet every day!

  • realist - 2010-08-18 12:55 really make your name ass with comments like that. "people who know politics"...I suppose you refer to people like Mugabe and people recent in the government who want to rob us systematicly of our freedom while enriching themeselves with our taxmoney? Politics is for everybody, everyday, always. Dont flatter yourself and prescribe that we must vote and shut up afterwards.....the fight has just started.

  • mike - 2010-08-18 12:58

    Well said Ackerman. Spot on the money, but they will ignore the proof of history, as it would restrict them and paint them in a bad light.

  • Pick 'n Press - 2010-08-18 13:06

    I criticise both PnP and the ANC Government in this instance. The only reason the ANC government is doing this is protect corruption. That is so obvious. They will be able to get away with murder and the press won't be able to report on it or expose it. Debroh Patta will be without a job if they succeed. On the other hand, I criticise PnP because they are just a racist corporate. White employees at PnP climb the corporate ladder much quicker, as opposed to their non white colleagues, depsite having the same, if not better, qualifications. Heaven knows what Gareth Ackerman is trying to achieve.

  • AagNee - 2010-08-18 13:18

    The ANC want the rest of the media to be like the SABC, they only report "good" news. Ever wonder why the SABC only report on crime then a suspect is caught. The fact is that the truth is an embarrassment to ANC. To think that the ANC wants to protect any individual’s dignity is stupid; they do not even protect the citizen’s lives.

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