Election Coverage 30 March 2009 – Malema, Orania and the Dalai Lama

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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 Monday 30 March, dominated by the ANC or ANC and government aligned stories.

1. The impending decision by the NPA on whether or not it would drop the charges against Jacob Zuma.  The majority of media monitored indicated that it was likely the charges would be dropped, although little evidence was provided to support this assertion in the items.
• Business Day, p. 1, 8;
• The Citizen, p. 4, 12;
• The Star, p. 1; and,
• The Times, p. 4.

2. Julius Malema campaigning in Orania received general attention.  Most of the items were similarly reported, noting how talks between Malema and the community had been positive and that Malema had noted how the activities of the community were essential too South Africa.  There seemed little value to the story other than noting that Malema had gone to campaign in a conservative town.
• Beeld, p. 4;
• Sowetan, p. 6;
• The Star, p. 3;
• The Citizen, p. 6; and,
•  Daily Sun, p. 5.

3.  Follow-up stories on the Dalai Lama’s entry visa denial were highlighted in several media.  The overwhelming majority of media coverage in opinion pieces and reported news clearly condemned the decision by the South African government to deny an entry visa. Two items were notable for their different takes on the matter. One piece by Jeremy Cronin in the Times (p.19), did not condone the visa refusal, and noted that, “The democratic credentials of the Dalai Lama remain suspect.”  The other, in the Star (p.3), was a report on the Black Lawyers Association (BLA) criticism of Justice Kate O’Regan for her comments saying that the government should apologise to its citizens.  The BLA believes that in her position, Justice O’Regan should not have commented on an issue of a political nature.
• Business Day, p. 9;
• The Citizen, p. 3;
• The Star, p. 3, 10;
• Beeld, p. 8;
• Sowetan, p. 8 and,
• The Times, p. 19.

A piece in the Business Day focused on a judgment on prepaid water meters and noted how the ruling in effect, “upholds and condones an illegality for a period of time.” (Business Day p.9)  While the article did not draw specific parallels to the upcoming elections, the issue of prepaid water meters is a critical one for voters, and relates directly to public service delivery under the current government and the constitution.
The Times (p.8) carried a powerful follow-up to the tragic story reported over a week ago about a grandmother who had been turned away from three clinics while seeking medical attention for her infant grandchild, who died as a result of a failure to receive medical care.  The follow-up story noted how it was not simply on one day alone that this family’s basic rights were denied, but that, “The police, and the departments of health, home affairs, housing and social development have failed the 59 year old woman.”  Accompanying the story is another item that highlights how the same clinics that turned away the grandmother were continuing to turn other people away, “despite the fact that turning patients away is a violation of Health Department Policy.”  The items demonstrate how key health rights and challenges can be told in powerful and moving ways. What remains is for media to critically engage with political parties over the broader issues resulting in these specific failures, and not leave them to their unchallenged soap boxes.

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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.

Media Monitoring Africa is acting as impartial observer of the SABC’s elections coverage.

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The following media are reviewed in the compilation of this report: Beeld, Daily Sun,; Sowetan, The Citizen, and The Star and The Times.

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