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Dr. Glenda Daniels Launches Her Book "Fight for Democracy" at JMS

Date Released: Tue, 11 September 2012 15:36 +0200

A fight for democracy                                                                   

By Leigh Jarvis

“A voice from the media defending the media.” Reg Rumney introduces Dr. Glenda Daniels, a highly approachable devoted journalist, at her book launch last night.   

In her book - Fight for Democracy - Daniels, a South African journalist for over 20 years provides a critical insight into the ANC’s treatment of print media since the country’s transition to democracy.

 Daniels, an anti-apartheid activist, passionately promotes the role newspapers and journalists have in the deepening of democratic principles.

“My book was written from the point of view of a journalist; it takes a stance,” said Daniels.

 The heart of Fight for Democracy questions the ANC’s ambivalence about the freedom of media, despite its commitment to the democratic objectives of the Constitution. Daniels raises pertinent questions scrutinising the consequences of a revised media policy on South Africa’s democratic principal of freedom of expression.

 Daniels examines the conflictual relationship between the media and ANC and argues that the ruling party’s understanding of democracy and development entails uniting the nation behind its leadership, while coercing journalists and professionals into loyalty. The dominant ANC view is that journalists are against transformation.

“We’ve experienced troughs in the freedoms of journalism in South Africa, since 1994 discourse of the ANC has been quite antagonistic towards the media.”

 Her book was launched in the context of unprecedented threats to media freedom.

Daniels discusses the secrecy bill saying, “people think we’re on the right track due to the amendment, but there are still jail terms for journalists.” 

There shouldn’t be even one day in jail for any journalist, she said, “when the crunch comes we have to be there to fight for our freedoms”.  

“The secrecy bill could still be passed in the unprogressive reactionary form it’s in,” warns Daniels.

 The media Appeals Tribunal is a topic of Fight for Democracy, which is “still on the agenda” and signifies a closure in South Africa’s democracy.

An issue which is close to Daniels’ heart, is the Zapiro defamation trial happening next month. “It’s the most unfortunate thing,” and a chapter in her book covers the case, in which President Jacob Zuma is suing the cartoonist for defaming him a few years ago.

 Daniels has just ended her term as advocacy co-ordinator at the Mail & Guardian Centre for Investigative journalism. Her most recent challenge is a research project at Wits journalism investigating the State of the Newsroom in South Africa.

Fight for Democracy: The African National Congress and the Media in South Africa is available in bookstores now.