Pretoria-PEN betreur toenemende onverdraagsaamheid in Suid-Afrika

Afrikaans hier onder.

MEDIA RELEASE ON 25 NOVEMBER 2011

Pretoria PEN regrets growing intolerance in South Africa

Pretoria PEN, the writers’ assocation, has regretted the growing intolerance in South Africa, as manifested in the ongoing controversy around the Protection of Information bill. “The bill and media reactions to it have created a rift between the ruling African National Congress and minority groups reminiscent of the polarization that took place in Zimbabwe a decade ago between ZANU PF and the opposition which ultimately led to the dissolution of that country,” said Dr. Dan Roodt, president of Pretoria PEN.

“Whereas the bill may be abused in order to silence or intimidate journalists, mere noise or protest will not reverse its passage through parliament where the ANC enjoys an overwhelming majority due to the centralised political system adopted in 1994. It is our view that government should heed its critics and amend the bill to save freedom of speech and access to information in South Africa,” Roodt continued.

Affiliated to PEN International in London, Pretoria PEN represents approximately forty Afrikaans-language authors in the north of the country. The association is dedicated to the promotion of literature and freedom of expression. The members of Pretoria PEN also subscribe to the PEN Charter which makes it incumbent upon writers “to use what influence they have in favour of good understanding and mutual respect between nations”, as well as “to oppose any form of suppression of freedom of expression in the country and community to which they belong as well as throughout the world whenever this is possible”.

As a banned author under the former political system in South Africa, Roodt “feels particularly strongly that freedom of speech in South Africa should be protected against all threats, not only from the government but also from the commercial media monopolies of South Africa and some narrow-minded journalists who regularly abuse such monopoly power by vilifying or besmirching public figures and stifling rational debate. The ultimate test of any liberal democracy is its tolerance towards minority views, both in an ethnic and moral sense.”

Contact Dan Roodt president@pretoriapen.co.za

MEDIAVERKLARING OP 25 NOVEMBER 2011

Pretoria-PEN betreur toenemende onverdraagsaamheid in Suid-Afrika

Pretoria-PEN, die skrywersvereniging, betreur die toenemende onverdraagsaamheid in Suid-Afrika, wat manifesteer in die huidige omstredenheid rondom die Wet op die beskerming van inligting. “Die wet en mediareaksies daarop het ‘n breuk tussen die regerende ANC en minderheidsgroepe veroorsaak wat aan die polarisering van Zimbabwe ongeveer ‘n dekade gelede herinner. Daardie polarisering het uiteindelik tot die ineenstorting van die land gelei,” het dr. Dan Roodt, president van Pretoria-PEN, gesê.

“Terwyl die wet misbruik mag word om joernaliste stil te maak of te intimideer, sal blote lawaai of protes ook nie die goedkeuring daarvan deur die parlement ongedaan maak nie, gegewe die ANC se oorweldigende meerderheid weens die gesentraliseerde politieke stelsel wat in 1994 aangeneem is. Na ons mening moet die regering sy kritici in ag neem en die wet wysig om spraakvryheid en toegang tot inligting in Suid-Afrika te red,” het Roodt voortgegaan.

Pretoria-PEN is by PEN Internasionaal in Londen geaffilieer en verteenwoordig ongeveer veertig Afrikaanse skrywers in die noorde van die land. Die vereniging is verbind tot die bevordering van letterkunde en vryheid van spraak. Die lede van Pretoria-PEN onderskryf ook die PEN-handves wat skrywers verplig om “te alle tye die invloed tot hul beskikking te gebruik om goeie begrip en onderlinge respek tussen volkere te bevorder”. Skrywers onderneem ook “om elke vorm van onderdrukking van spraakvryheid in die land en in die gemeenskap waartoe hulle behoort teen te staan, sowel as orals ter wêreld waar dit ook al moontlik is”.

As ‘n verbode skrywer onder die vorige Suid-Afrikaanse bewind, voel Roodt “veral sterk daaroor dat spraakvryheid in Suid-Afrika teen alle bedreigings beskerm behoort te word, nie net vanuit die regering nie maar ook vanuit die winsgedrewe mediamonopolieë van Suid-Afrika en sommige benepe joernaliste wat gereeld sulke monopolistiese mag misbruik deur openbare figure te verguis of te beswadder en rasionele debat in die doofpot te steek. Die uiteindelike toets vir enige liberale demokrasie is geleë in sy vedraagsaamheid teenoor minderheidsieninge, wat sowel in etniese as morele sin opgevat moet word.”

Kontak Dan Roodt president@pretoriapen.co.za