Election Coverage 10 March 2009 – Dubious Electioneering by ANC?

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Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) has monitored every democratic election in South Africa. This year we are doing the same, providing daily and weekly reports on media coverage of election news, as well as MMA’s Election Media Ratings.

Top elections stories for Tuesday 10 March are:

1.  Various stories of allegedly dubious electioneering practices by ANC.
• A complaint by the DA about Jacob Zuma disrupting education by
electioneering in schools (The Citizen, p. 7);
• Cope’s complaint that Minister Ngconde Balfour abused his
position in having prisoners sing ANC songs at a choir competition (The Times, p. 4);
• Cope’s allegation that ANC and SADTU leaders have been
employed by IEC as field workers and presiding officers at the recent by-election (SABC 3 19h00 bulletin);
• ANC delivering food and blankets obtained from charities in
Mpumalanga, which may be against the Electoral Code of Conduct as it may be considered a bribe for voting ANC (The Star, p. 5 and a cartoon on it on p. 10); and,
• Complaints to the DA about grants officials distributing
grants only if people ‘vow to vote for the ANC’(The Citizen, p. 8).

The allegations of dubious electioneering practices need to be viewed seriously. If they are true, they may directly impact on the free and fair requirements for the elections.  In response to the allegation that they have been distributing food and blankets, the ANC is quoted as saying that this is a general practice and that they will be cooperating with other charities to distribute goods in future electioneering (The Star, p. 5).

Minister Naledi Pandor’s contention that teachers shouldn’t go to political meetings during school time was the subject of two editorials (Sowetan, p. 12 and The Citizen, p. 12). This indicates that media are taking the allegations of the behavior of these teachers seriously as are the relevant government officials.

2. IFP’s bid to get access to a Kwazulu Natal Agriculture Department report detailing mismanagement and corruption.
• Business Day, p. 5;
• Sowetan, p. 6; and,
• The Times, p. 4.

While Daily Sun’s election coverage is monitored on a daily basis, it seldom features in these reports largely as a result of its elections’ coverage being dramatically lower than the other media monitored.  For the 10th of March for instance, there is only one elections’ focused story. All voters should be able to make an informed choice when casting their vote on the 22nd of April. Thus, it is essential that ALL media including the Daily Sun actively inform their readers in relation to the coming elections and encourage them to vote. Currently it seems that Daily Sun readers may not be receiving sufficient information to be encouraged to vote, and make an informed decision when they do.

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For more information please contact Sandra Roberts on 084 9000 344 or 011 788 1278 or William Bird on 082 887 1370.

The Daily Reports are made possible by the Open Society Foundation.

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The following media are reviewed in the compilation of this report: Beeld, Daily Sun, e-tv primetime news, SABC 3 primetime news, Sowetan, The Citizen, The Star, and The Times.

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