Election Coverage 9 March 2009 – Education and Religion

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Media Monitoring Africa 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, 9 March are:

1.  Analytical pieces featured prominently in election coverage on Monday. Analyses included:
• Poor political party posters and slogans (Business Day, p. 7);
• By-election results in the Western Cape (Business Day, p.9);
• The importance of not confusing party and state in the Sowetan (Business Day, p.13);
• Editorial calling on all people’s sense of duty to do the hard work necessary to build South Africa (Daily Sun, p.8); and,
• A piece by Helen Zille about the DA’s plans to be in government in 2014 (The Times, p. 19).
The Zille piece seemed to be in response to a piece last week (2/03/2009, p.4) about the DA’s decision to “opt out” and not put forward a presidential candidate.

2. Education must come first

While the initial story of teachers taking time off during a school day to attend a SADTU meeting about the ANC’s elections plans received relatively little coverage (see Daily report from Friday 6 March). Minister Naledi’s Pandos comments made in response to these events were more widely reported. Minister Pandor was reported as saying, “It is wrong and unprofessional to leave learners in the classroom while you attend union meetings during school hours.” (Business Day p.3)
• Beeld, p. 2;
• Business Day, p.3;
• Sowetan, p. 8;
• The Citizen, p.6, 12; and,
• The Star, p. 6, 17.

It would seem that international women’s day is somehow just that, “international” as there was scant attention paid to it.  Gender based violence is endemic in South Africa and the majority of victims are women.  Perhaps equally importantly, women bear the brunt of poverty and are disproportionately responsible for unpaid care work.  Women also make up the majority of South Africans, and therefore should have their interests addressed in election party manifestos.  Media could have analysed manifestos for gender issues or accessed political parties for comment.

There also appeared to be a religious theme to some of the media coverage which added an interesting slant on the election activities of the past weekend.  An item in Beeld focused on a network of Christian faith people calling for 20 March to be declared a national day of prayer in the run up to the elections. Sowetan had three items on one page, with Zuma saying that God in on the side of the ANC. Another quotes African Christian Democratic Party chair, Pastor Charles Gololo as saying that “evil spirits dwell in Malema.” Finally, Cope presidential candidate Mvume Dandala is quoted as saying that the church still has an important role to play in South African politics.  (Sowetan, p.4)
SABC 3 primetime news bulletin was notable for its absence of elections items.
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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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