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Media tribunal: Why all the fuss?

Laugh out loud on Sunday
Methinks the media tribunal is a good idea after all. For the first time after 16 years of democracy politicians will have a haven where they can run off to appeal against the media’s nosy ways. The public will also have a well deserved break from all the exposés on corruption — the Oilgates and the Travelgates of this world — things that really put politicians in a bad light. I mean, who wants to know what Blade Nzimande did with a bag full of money? Who wants their children subjected to the latest misdemeanours coming out of Nkandla? Who wants to know about bags of money being exchanged between a top cop and drug  lords? Let’s face it, these are things that make our country look bad and the only window through which they can peep and see the dirty linen is the via the media. So it makes sense that some other authority oversee the media’s overzealousness to expose the so-called truth. This tribunal will ensure that anything even mildly embarrassing to any minister or head of state — here and in the rest of the continent — be overruled and the perpetrators swiftly punished.

It will ensure there are real and harsh sentences for any misreporting of any kind, to ensure that the media is disciplined and taught a lesson in nation building. For a democracy as young as our own it has only caused grief in the face of our continent to be seen to be a place where the media can do pretty much what they want. This has caused us to fall below the standards of our fellow African countries, where journalists are vetted before a visit, let alone reporting on anything. In our fellow African countries, journalists are maimed and killed for poking fun at presidents. Here, down south, cartoonists can paint a picture of icon Madiba dead and our horny president, and get away with it. Editors routinely lambaste the president for the smallest of things like a collapsing office or a lack of a backbone — a stock-in-trade of many African presidents. I now understand why Floyd has started his own FBI-type investigation capacity because the tribunal will need some kind of investigators who can dig up dirt on journalists. So I guess President Zuma’s question: “For what?”, when he heard of Floyd’s mission, has been answered.

The ruling ANC is faced with an ineffective and disorganised opposition that can’t really stop it from implementing the tribunal. So what is left is to work out the modalities.

The seat of the tribunal
Given that the legislature is in Cape Town and administrative capital is Pretoria, and the fact that the Constitutional Court is in Jo’burg, we’re running out of cities. So why not settle for Polokwane, where it all originated in 2007?

The commissioners
The following commissioners will make for excellent judges of the tribunal

  • Blade Nzimade: He of the R 500 000 fame.
  • Floyd Shivhambu: He of the “dig-up-the-dirt” shame.
  • Jackie Selebi: He of a “finish and klaar” notoriety
  • Pik Botha: As a reminder of the the Info Scandal
  • Andre Visagie: To touch all the media on their studios
  • Leonard Chuene: He of the Caster lies scandal.
  • Jon Qwelane: He of the homophobia shame
  • Schabir Shaik: He, suffering from a terminal illness

The chairmanship of the tribunal will be a hot contest between Carl Niehaus and Jesse Duarte, both of whom are immediately available to keep the media on their toes given their situation of being unemployed. They both have earned their place in building excellent relations with the press during their time as ANC spin doctors and have always used the tribunal to threaten media that was out of line. They will now have to actually carry out their threats in a structured way, where harsh mandatory sentences will be dished out to truant editors who dare report of why people, such as Duarte, quit the presidency and why Niehaus is in so much debt.

PS: It’s time that we learned to say what we mean. There’s really nothing about accountability of the media in the call for a tribunal. The media, much like the Scorpions, are seen to have “abused” their freedom and have yet not learned that you can’t exercise such freedoms over those that fought to get them for you. The Scorpions are now no more despite the screams and shouts of almost all of bright society. The media and its freedom will go the same way no matter how many articles bemoan what is about to befall what has been a paradise of press freedom. Watch this space. Oh, I almost forgot that the mother of our nation could also be in the running for the life presidency of the tribunal. Remember what she said on the sidelines of the Caster Semenya rally at the airport last year? She reminded the media that her and her fellow freedom fighters for press freedom have fought to make the media free and the media must reward them with some kind of deference and stop reporting things like gangster soccer teams and murderers and fraud as the only things that characterise black people.

I know what will make this whole fuss about media tribunal go away. Stop corruption — then the media will have little or nothing to report about. We won’t be seeing stories of ministers having their fingers in the pie. Stop incompetence and blind deployment, then babies in a high-tech and well resourced hospital won’t die of sheer negligence. The media will then have to find something else to report on, stuff that won’t need any tribunal, believe me.

  • Onkgopotse JJ Tabane is chief executive of Oresego International Business Advisors  and an accredited associate of the IIB international. He writes in  his personal capacity
  • Author

    • Onkgopotse JJ Tabane is Chief Executive of Oresego Holdings - International Business Advisors. He is an accredited Associate of the Institute for Independent Business International (iib). He writes here in his personal capacity. --------------------------------------------- Onkgopotse JJ Tabane is a Media and Communications Specialist who has become a public commentator on a wide range of socio political issues over the last decade. He has cut his teeth in both Government and Private Sector as a top communicator winning awards such as the Government Communicator of the year in 2002 and holding senior positions such as Ministerial Spokesperson for various ministers, Head of Ministry of Environmental Affairs, Communications Advisor to the Chamber of Mines Communications Vice President and General Manager at South African Airways as well as Chief Executive of Graphicor and Simeka Communications. He has also held a senior corporate affairs Job at Top Electonic Company Altron where he was in Charge of the company’s Transformation Programme and Corporate Social Investment. When COPE was formed in 2008 Tabane quit his Corporate Job to Join COPE as their Head of Communications leading up to the 2009 General election. Until July 2010 Today amongst his many activities he was the Political Advisor to Former COPE Parliamentary Leader Dr Mvume Dandala and occasional contributor to many publications. He has also served on various boards of directors including as a member of the Gauteng Tourism Authority, Johannesburg Tourism Authority and until recently chaired the board of the Indalo Yethu Environmental Campaign. He is still a member of the Northwest University Council where he is serving his second term. JJ Tabane is widely known for his forthright manner of debate and fearless tackling of public commentary since his student days where he was SRC President and Vice President at the Universities of the North and Western Cape where he qualified in Law and Politics. He holds a BA,( UNIN), BPROC (UWC) and Masters in Political Economy (NMMU). He is married to Lorraine Ditshedi Tabane and has two children, Oreabetse (4) and Resego (12) after whom he has named his newly launched International Advisory Business Oresego Holdings.


    1. Mark Robertson Mark Robertson 1 August 2010

      I love your list of commissioners – if only we could add to them Eschel Roodie of the Dept of Information, Hendrik vd Berg of State Security, and BJ Voster of the Info Scandal – who actually was forced to resign due to secret funding to the press (can you believe that even in that rotten and autocratic regime, interfering with the press coulod actually bring down a president…) , who would all be clapping and cheering on the new regime for , as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…

    2. pete ess pete ess 1 August 2010

      Well said, sir! And hopefully the tribunal is held behind closed doors so we don’t have to hear Carl Niehaus!

    3. John John 2 August 2010


      There is hope for our country, possibly even the continent.

      Journalists have it bad enough without overt government intervention. Reporting the truth in Africa is a very dangerous profession!

      AND THE VAST MAJORITY of these journalists are black. Are we about to accuse them of being just coconuts. Is it just possible that some blacks also have a conscience, that some blacks are angered by the despotic governments of Africa.

      These journalists are not the provocateurs but our conscience. Salute them rather than persecuting them!!!

    4. Phetogo Phetogo 2 August 2010

      Whats really sad is that this will happen,no matter what,thats how confident polokwane comrades are,thats y what is happening Ko COPE irritates the hell out of me,what a waisted vote

    5. Bernard K Hellberg Bernard K Hellberg 2 August 2010

      Brilliant, Onkgopotse. Although tongue-in-cheek, the reality is a world where a prominent communist (our own Blade) takes his cues from a now-dead Nazi (Joe Goebbels) and starts his own paper. Remember the Voelkischer Beobachter (Racist Observer) that served the Nazis so well. Wait for New Age to give us all the carefully sanitised “good” news.

    6. Jonathan Jonathan 2 August 2010

      Brilliant stuff!! Pity we will not be allowed to read you soon.

    7. Arie Arie 2 August 2010

      This coming of the tribunal is the thin edge of the wedge to create a communist-run RSA.
      Citizins of the world awake to the coming threat to personal freedom

    8. Lennon Lennon 2 August 2010

      You forgot to add Julius Malema – He who has thingy’s, bastards and bloody agents removed from revolutionary houses by chiefs.

    9. Fred Fred 2 August 2010

      When I started reading I was worried that you escaped form the insane asylum, but half way through I started enjoying the sarcasm.

      If the government thinks those reports put them in a bad light – they should see what clamping down on media freedom does.

    10. Sitoliquido Sitoliquido 2 August 2010

      He-he, very funny one this! But I didn’t fall for it like I did when you did that brilliant one on former COPE, the party that could have been, the anti-climax party!

    11. Khanyile Nkosinathi Khanyile Nkosinathi 2 August 2010

      Well said JJ!!

      How about COPE monies not accounted for by Shilowa??

    12. Siobhan Siobhan 2 August 2010

      Bravo, JJ!

      The media are not here to make us happy; they are here to help keep us FREE by informing us of the abuses of power by the current government, including provincial and municipal government, by business, by corporations, by abusive clerics, teachers, hospitals, every institution in the country that we reside our trust in to do a good job.

      The media cannot abuse press freedom with impunity for the simple reason that it is illegal to knowingly and with intent publish untruths. The law provides citizens with the right to charge the media with crimin injuria or libel or slander. President Zuma has availed himself of this provision on a number of occasions. (It could even be our next ‘cottage industry’ in the ANCYL).

      The Freedom of the Press is not the problem in SA. The problem is the Freedom of the Government to break laws with impunity and to ignore the Constitution.

      The Press/Media have a Constitutional Mandate to our protect OUR
      freedom to know what is being done by government in our name.

      The government of the day (regardless of political party) is ACCOUNTABLE TO US, THE CITIZENS. The Press/Media are serving OUR interests by exposing political corruption, ineptitude, waste of resources, abuse of power.

      The Press is not the enemy of the people; Censors are the enemies of the people and the Media Tribunal is definitely Censorship.

      Without the a free press we can not have a free country.

      Press freedom is our freedom.

    13. Bovril24 Bovril24 2 August 2010


      I am surprised you are not running for president. You clearly have the Right Stuff — apart from your satirical last paragraph, of course

    14. MLH MLH 2 August 2010

      Good to see another black IIB-er coming through that essentially colonial system. I find it fascinating that people who are politically well-connected see the value in it.
      You may have made the point that none of the commissioners, no matter who, is likely to have the experience needed to do the job; just lots of bluster and a passion to cover up their own naughty pasts.

    15. Ams Ams 2 August 2010


    16. Alpheus Sipho Lukhele Alpheus Sipho Lukhele 2 August 2010

      Love this post!

    17. Gumrol Gumrol 2 August 2010

      Great post! I also had to rub my eyes in the first paragraph – asked myself “Is he for real?” a couple of times, and then saw the huge tongue in cheek.
      I don’t think the ANC will get the clamp-down on the media done as easily as the scorpions – there are many more eyes on the situation than before, and I for one am going to do what I can to stop it.

    18. Peter Joffe Peter Joffe 2 August 2010

      I propose Malema as the Chairman of the Commission that decides on what is ‘good’and what is bad. He is bound to apply his high revolutionary standards to the decisions and we can all rest assured that the resukts will be ‘free and fair’, as has been the case in Zimbabwe for the past 4 elections, supported by our esteemed ANC comrades.

    19. storm mcewen storm mcewen 2 August 2010

      Wow! Brilliant!

    20. jj tabane jj tabane 2 August 2010

      Mh please send me more infor on ur experience with the iib I am on [email protected] ur remark intrigues. Othereise on the commissioners they are qualified…as demagougues really. Whose sole task will be to clamp down on free expressison.

    21. Ellen Gundani Ellen Gundani 2 August 2010

      Kindly send mail daily

    22. blogroid blogroid 2 August 2010

      This is a crafty piece… You know that information starvation is the way that great Parties destroy themselves, and so you want them to go ahead. You know what the ANC seem to have forgotten: that as the various media are silenced then peopl, being easily bored, wont support them anymore and therefore advertisers will desert them; business will decline, and unemployment will rise and like the unspoken crime rate about which we are in denial, we can pretend that every petty emperor has a party dress and that people should be grateful they have a vote: but things only get worse and worse. Think of this huge acid sludge thing that lurks under Jozi… We can pretend it no longer exists, and it will go away… wont it.

      You forgot to mention how much fun it will be when the non-existant, so-called ‘opposition’ jokers, find they are not permitted to be quoted in the new free press rules… and any mention of civil unrest bubbling away will be punishable as will mention of the new Sharpevilles that must inevitably herald a new assault on tyranny. We’ve come pretty close to that already a few times and there have been regular shootings.
      Presumably in your guise as COPE commentator you are hoping to be a beneficiary of these regulations when [perhaps in your dreams] you see a resurgent COPE becoming an Alternate government. Pray that you are banned and can go into exile, for the darkness cometh.

    23. Brian Brian 3 August 2010

      Well detailed article,raising some notable points.. while at it,seems this “Tribunal” is meant to serve and protect their dirty laundry…also for them to continue exploiting public funds as they please, owing no explanation to one…..Like the Scorpions!! their strength of uprooting corruption lied on their freedom of scrutiny and independance,but now our prestigious government had to find a way to debilitate their vigour for their own gain,sadly it seems they are trying to drive press freedom down to the same road……it is really a plight….

    24. JumboJet JumboJet 3 August 2010

      This JJ chap is trying to re-brand himself after an embarassing stint with Cope.

    25. JJ Tabane JJ Tabane 3 August 2010

      But who is Jumbo Jet? Reveal yourself so we can deal with you….in the meantime read all the posts before yours to see you are a lone silly voice that cannot bring itself to debate the issues on the table and resort to stupid remarks that are irrelevant. For the record I do not need to rebrand myself at all.

    26. mgeve mgeve 4 August 2010

      Fairly good article. Pity, this is happening with an ANC constituency not having a voice to say it like you said it en masse! This is another point you need to point out, the way ANC runs down the media to its African electorate, that is, intimidation and news blackout, keeping them ignorant, means less noise form a huge chunk of the polity. Anyway, as most articles seems to demur, the axe is coming, and silence, as applied by the paper-tiger(ANC) has been set in motion and rumbling down the echo chambers of social discourse. Mmm, maybe I concur, hopelessness seeps into the consciousness, and I, in a discouraged way, hope for the best in a worsening situation. ANC politics are a remnant of the Benzies in Africa. They learnt their lesson well, now, the cruise within the chasm of neo-apartheidized society, playing the one against the others and so on – meanwhile, They are creating a Rainbow South Africa in their own image- so, what better place to start than the Media. Can anyone wrap their mind around this one – a country with a highly intelligent elite being and herded in one direction but a motley crew of various cabals who hold the reigns of democracy, and yet, not one whimper, and if there is any, impotent. My point, knowing the guillotine is about to chop, is the new rainbow nation going to sliced up, or, the denizens South will stop the Predatory ANC’s Bullying Arrogant Tactics?

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