by TINTSWALO BALOYI
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – A DERELECTION of duty by government spokespeople has been noted as the crises afflicting the administration of President Cyril Ramaphosa mount.
This is much to the dismay of the media, a fourth estate in any democratic government.
The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) has expressed concern at the growing lack of responses to media queries.
It disclosed it had been receiving complaints from journalists about the failure of spokespeople, to either reply to questions or to provide useful information – when approached for comment.
“This tendency seems to be worsening,” SANEF stated.
It noted that “It is not a choice or optional for the government to communicate properly” as this is required by the Constitution.
Section 195 of the Constitution states: “Transparency must be fostered by providing the public with timely, accessible, and accurate information.”
Previously, SANEF has engaged the Government Communication and Information Systems (GCIS) to raise this issue.
“Seemingly, there is no progress being made here as spokespersons continue to disregard journalists’ requests for comments, clarity, or information,” SANEF stated.
The editors’ forum said when government departments fail to employ spokespeople/communicators to communicate accurately and timeously with the media, taxpayers’ money is wasted, and South Africans are left none the wiser.
“It is disdainful for departments to choose not to respond to questions, despite being given ample time to do so,” SANEF argued.
The South African government has lurched between crises, the latest being the daring escape of murder and rape convicted Thabo Bester and the failure to extradite the controversial Gupta brothers.
Government communicators have also snubbed some media over the pit latrines tragedies at schools and the crises around asylum seekers.
– CAJ News