The South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) has called for an urgent meeting with the Minister of Communications Stella Ndabeni Abrahams. This after Ndabeni Abrahams blocked journalists from covering the action of protesters at an African National Congress (ANC) manifesto launch at the Badibanise stadium in KwaBhaca, formerly Mount Frere, on Saturday.

Irate ANC supporters stormed the venue of the launch over a lack of service delivery.

Sanef chair for Media Freedom Mary Papayya says they believe it is time for Ndabeni Abrahams  to be engaged on her actions.

“We think that is very uncalled for based on our concern and the terrain that journalists have to work under, given the minister’s high profile and her role particularly relating to the SABC, we are calling for an urgent meeting with her to discuss the matter and our concerns. We believe that it is time for engagement on her actions.”

Ndabeni-Abrahams has issued a statement apologising for her conduct. She says she regrets the altercation and remains committed to media freedom.

Meanwhile, the South African Communist Party (SACP) described the Minister’s conduct as unfortunate.  Spokesperson Alex Mashilo says they will discuss the matter with the alliance partners as well as the Minister.

Media Monitoring Africa executive director, William Bird, says President Cyril Ramaphosa needs to take appropriate action against Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams. However, Bird says that given that this is an election year the governing party has to earn back the trust of the media in terms of ensuring their freedom.

Bird says instead of ensuring that the SABC gets a guarantee, Ndabeni-Abrahams, has created a situation in which opposition parties will take the ANC to task on where it stands on media freedom.

“The Minister who we know, instead of going and saying where is the guarantee for the public broadcaster, why do we not have the board members, has been saying things which are at odds with that, another direct threat to the independence and the ability of journalists to do their job for the public broadcaster. So really, this is a big problem now for the ANC in terms on where they stand on media freedom. I think we can expect a lot of other political parties to jump on the band wagon and start beating.”