Government has told the media that there is room for disagreement between them. This was the message conveyed by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe to the country's foremost editors yesterday, at the South African National Editor's Forum (SANEF) Indaba, taking place in Magaliesburg outside
The annual Indaba, held since 2010, aims to provide a platform where the media and the executive can engage on whatever issues they have, in a cordial environment.
Motlanthe said: "Government has a duty to all South Africans to cultivate a diversity of voices in public discourse."
He said that in an open democracy, like South Africa's, these voices do not have to be mutually agreeable and do not have to agree with government.
"However, there should be no voice that goes unheard, and as they say, where applicable, we should disagree without being disagreeable," he added.
Deputy chairperson of SANEF, Nic Dawes, also spoke at the opening of the Indaba.
Dawes, editor of the Mail and Guardian, welcomed changes that have given rise to a new press code, a complaints procedure and a revised structure for the Press Council.
"These changes, I think its fair to say, were not easy for the press to make as they significantly narrow the level of protection we previously had in the system. But we are deeply confident that they will deepen the culture of accountability in the press and that accountability will deepen the broad public acceptable of the principle of media freedom," said Dawes.
He said that although the media found the changes tough at first, and felt that they were taking steps away from an established comfort zone, they are glad that the changes have been made.