Election Coverage 9-13 April 2009 – Politics is About People

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Election coverage for Thursday 9 April and the weekend (10-13) continued to be dominated by the NPA’s decision to drop charges against Jacob Zuma, and the repercussions thereof.  This is not surprising given the importance of the decision taken and its potential impact on South Africa.  Thursday’s papers had less content about the case than the previous two days. However, by and large, the weekend coverage provided comprehensive analytical coverage of the issues involved as expected of weekend papers.

MMA has selected a few stories for comment.

An article in The Weekender, entitled “Vigilance is the price we must pay to safeguard democracy” (11-12 April 2009), looked at how the power struggle within the ANC potentially effects people. It expresses concern over the alleged statements by Jacob Zuma about the judiciary (presumably relating to the comments that the Constitutional Court is not God).  It suggests that cadre deployment will mean a continuation of the political and service delivery problems that SA is facing, and encourages vigilance lest our democracy is undermined. In comparison, other articles concentrated on the political consequences of the decision or discussed the legal basis of the decision itself.

The Sunday Times carried a piece on the ANC giving out food for votes.  While this is not the first piece on the issue, it is one of the most comprehensive and prominent.  The article was front page on 12 April with “ANC lures hungry voters with food’. The food packages discussed were supplied by the Department of Social Development.  Unlike previous stories on the issue, the article consulted various sources, including Black Sash, other political parties, the ANC, the IEC and beneficiaries of the food parcels.  As a story about abuse of power and state resources, to the detriment of truly needy people, this story justifiably made the front page.

The third story is a report about a teenager on the DA candidate’s list by the Saturday Star.  “Teenager on DA’s KwaZulu-Natal candidates list” (11/04/2009, p. 8) looks at an enterprising and talented young man.  There has been limited coverage on youth in election coverage thus far (aside from prominent political figures), and this article makes a refreshing change.  A 19-year old candidate is sufficiently unusual to cause wonder at why a story about him had not been widely covered.  It would have been interesting to hear his views on issues affecting the youth, however the piece did not delve into his opinions on this

These three stories offer different focus points from the topics dominating stories in the weekend papers and that of the election generally.  For the Saturday Star and Sunday Times items mentioned however, it is surprising that these stories did not appear weeks ago.
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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.
These reports are made possible by the Open Society and Free Voice Foundations.

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

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The following daily media reviewed for the compilation of this report were Business Day, Daily Sun, Sowetan, The Citizen, and The Star and The Times, Weekend media reviewed were Mail & Guardian, Sunday Independent, Sunday Sun, Sunday Times, and Weekender.

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