A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
JOINT COMMITTEE ON PROMOTION OF EQUALITY AND PREVENTION OF UNFAIR DISCRIMINATION BILL
23 November 1999
Submissions handed out:
The Banking Council
South African Human Rights Commission
South African Council Of Churches
South African Jewish Board of Deputies
Print Media Association
National Association of Broadcasters
Freedom of Commercial Speech Trust
Freedom of Expression Institute
Advertising Standards Authority
Chairpersons: Mr M Moosa (NCOP, ANC) and Ms N Botha (NA, ANC)
The Banking Council
The Banking Council’s submission focused on two areas: the challenge of providing services to low income communities and the introduction of a defence based on objective commercial criteria. They argued that this should be included in s43(2) of the Bill and should be situated within the context of consumer protection legislation. Furthermore, they pointed to the Code of Practice signed by members of the Banking Council and the newly established office of the Banking Adjudicator, both of which become effective on 3 April 2000 as indicative of the industry’s commitment to change.
Mr Moosa (Chairperson – ANC) pointed out that the bottom line is that poor people do not have the same access to loans that rich people have. The Banking Council responded that this was an issue which the industry was addressing by considering for example Fair Lending Practices Acts and other similar legislation in other jurisdictions. They are also looking at options such as intermediaries and securitisation.
Prof Turok (ANC) commented that this was the first of many submissions which would raise the desire for a defence based on objective commercial criteria and that as such it was necessary for the committee to consider evidence from both sides. He further pointed out that the discussions which the Banking Council had had with government had been with the Executive and not Parliament. He expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that, like the Ombudsman, the new Banking Adjudicator appears to be funded by the industry, suggesting that there is a need for objective institutions to fulfill the watchdog role.
Dr Davies (ANC) pointed to the fact that the evolution of niche banks and the entry of international banks into the South African market meant that banks were moving further away from lower income people. He said that objective commercial criteria can and has previously been used to justify ‘red-lining’ where certain communities/ areas were denied loans because they were perceived as a bad risk.
The Banking Council responded to the concerns raised by Prof Turok and Dr Davies by saying that the industry was involved in a process aimed at striking a balance in this respect. Consumer credit and disclosure legislation, which would require banks to publish were they were giving loans, was necessary and it was for government to introduce this within the context of a market conduct regulation framework. This is currently very confused. In respect of the Banking Adjudicator the Council pointed out that this was the culmination of internal attempts to create effective regulation. If government feels a statutory ombudsman would be more effective, the banks were happy to enter into debate.
Mr Pieterse (ANC) remarked that the areas excluded were always black areas and asked what was being done to redress this position. The Banking Council responded by again suggesting that disclosure legislation is required, which will provide statistics which will in turn inform useful debate.
Chief Holomisa (ANC) asked what the banks were doing about latent discrimination such as the closure of banks in rural areas.
The response was that because of increased competition banks are trying to cut costs and as a result a number of rural branches have been closed. This is a matter which needs to be addressed.
Mr Aucamp (AEB) pointed out that industries such as banking and insurance sell risk and that risk is always related to groups. For example he, as a pipe smoking man, pays higher insurance premiums than a non smoker or a woman. He then suggested that the proposed defence be included in s1(xxvi)(iv) as subsection (cc), to which the Council had no objections.
Ms Rajbally (MF) asked what the banks were doing to protect people who fell into arrears and questioned the different interest rates which apply for example in respect of personal and mortgage loans. The response was that banks commit themselves to responsible lending and ensuring that borrowers do not overextend themselves, by evaluating risk up front. The onus is not however always on the banks and borrowers also need to take responsibility.
Mr Madasa suggested that previous discrimination in the banking sector had been a blessing in disguise as poor people are the only people who truly own what they have.
Mr Moosa thanked the Banking Council for its support of the Bill, saying that it was especially appreciated in view of the negative stance taken by the Free Market Foundation.
South African Human Rights Commission
Dr B Pityana presented (see the submission for details).
Mr Moosa (Chairperson – ANC) pointed to the concerns raised in other submissions relating to the definitions clause and sectors and asked Dr Pityana for the SAHRC’s position on these questions, as well as the budgetary impact of allowing socio-economic status as a prohibited ground. Dr Pityana said that a great deal of thought had gone into the definitions and sectors: while it was necessary at one level to give visible effect to South Africa’s international obligations, it was also important to address the country’s specific background of discrimination and to provide general protection. Thus a broad definition of discrimination was needed. The sectors serve an important didactic purpose in that they represented areas where discrimination was known to occur. With this in mind they clarify how discrimination in these sectors should be dealt with, in a way which is accessible to lay people. In respect of socio-economic status, he pointed out that often discrimination occurred because people were prejudged as being unable to afford, for example, services, rather than because of a real inability to pay. Increasingly however business was becoming aware of the potential of low-income earners.
Dr Davies (ANC) said that he was pleased to see that the SAHRC was taking the issue of nationality seriously. He asked, in respect of enforcement, whether the SAHRC supported a three tiered approach (as suggested by IDASA) and whether the SAHRC was ready to serve its role. Dr Pityana responded that most complaints will go to the SAHRC, NGOs and parastatals, where a major sifting process will occur based on fairness and the Constitution. Approximately 10% of cases will go to the court or tribunal.
Ms Zita (ANC) pointed to the TRC’s approach to reparations, as well as that taken in Germany, where West Germans were being asked to pay more taxes to facilitate transformation and asked whether something similar could not be done in South Africa.
Prof Turok (ANC) asked whether the current bureaucracy could cope with the effects of including nationality as a listed ground. He also wished to know whether Dr Pityana felt the Bill to be over-legalistic in the sense that it might lead to increased litigation. Further, he pointed out that the courts are already overloaded and asked whether they were the appropriate forum for dealing with disputes.
Dr Pityana responded by saying that the bureaucracy must rise to the occasion. Further, if the Bill was made too simplistic and minimalist, it would be subject to constant challenges as people sough to test it. There are however problems: the definition of discrimination needs to be cleaned up and made consistent throughout the Bill and this needs to be tied in to the Constitution. It had been strongly debated at the drafting stage whether the courts were an appropriate forum. Government felt that it would be less expensive to follow this route, whereas the SAHRC is not convinced that once specialist personnel have been trained and so on, the costs will not be on a par with establishing a tribunal, which is the route preferred by the SAHRC.
Ms Smuts (DP) questioned how the hate speech provisions in the Bill tied in with the Constitution, which does not prohibit hate speech. She also questioned the perception that this Bill was some sort of educational document. Dr Pityana responded that one of the aims of the Bill was to increase awareness; another is to define and clarify what exactly is prohibited and also to give effect to international obligations. In relation to the balance between freedom of speech and the prohibition on hate speech, he did not believe the Bill to be at all unconstitutional.
Chief Holomisa (ANC) asked whether the Bill adequately addresses the question of land ownership, which he felt to be the most glaring example of inequality. He also suggested that traditional courts should have been declared equality courts. Dr Pityana answered that the aim was to make equality courts open and accessible to people, as such there was nothing precluding the Minister from declaring traditional courts to be equality courts. Land ownership is to an extent taken care of in terms of the land restitution process, although there is also nothing precluding its introduction in the Bill.
South African Council of Churches
The SACC gave its broad support to the Bill as in keeping with the tenets of the Christian faith. They would however prefer to see a single definition of discrimination, as multiple definitions obscure the complexity of the problem and create difficulties in respect of interpretation.
Mr Nduo (ANC) commented that many of the current debates revolve around those who support self regulation versus proponents of government regulation. He suggested that often the former are attempting to cushion themselves against change.
Mr Madasa raised the issue of gay rights, while Mr Skhosana asked what the position would be in respect of Satanism.
The SACC responded by saying that the Christian faith is divided on a number of issues, of which gay rights is one. The Church is constantly engaging with the realities of our times. It is exactly because there is discrimination in the Church that this Bill is needed – the SACC wants to be seen to be accountable for lobbying and implementing the Act within its constituency. In respect of Satanism, the SACC suggested that it was not a debate for Parliament, but nonetheless offered the view that this was a matter of personal conscience, governed by s50(1) of the Constitution.
Mr Aucamp (AEB) felt it incumbent on himself to point out to the delegation from the SACC that, contrary to their suggestions, God is not on the side of the poor. He also raised the issue of Satanism.
South African Jewish Board of Deputies
This submission focused on two areas: hate speech and the right of faith communities to discriminate in favour of their own communities. They said that hate speech desensitizes and should be prohibited and criminalized on the grounds of its potential to cause harm (and not violence as suggested in s8(a)). In terms of the rights of faith communities to discriminate in favour of their own communities, they suggested that the aim of such practices was to create pride in the community’s religious identity and to promote adherence to its norms.
Dr Davies concurred with the SAJBD’s views on hate speech. However he asked whether they thought it acceptable to charge higher school fees to non-adherents who attended a school linked to a specific religious community. The SAJBD’s responded by pointing out that such institutions are often heavily subsidized by the community and that non-adherents, who were not part of that community, could therefore not expect to get the same subsidies. This was acceptable as long as there was no discrimination on the grounds of race.
Ms Tsheole asked whether the imminent Act for the Promotion of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities would not adequately provide the protection requested by the SAJBD and further, whether s16(2)(c) of the Constitution does not provide adequate protection in respect of hate speech. The SAJBD suggested that the Act for the Promotion of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities had nothing to do with the Equality Bill.
Ms Majobe questioned ongoing discrimination against women in both the Christian and Jewish faiths. The SAJBD suggested that this was a debate that should take place within the Jewish religion and that Jewish women do not consider themselves in any way ‘underprivileged’ as a result of the fact that there is differentiation between men and women in the Jewish religion. Sexual orientation, they said, is a private affair.
The Chairperson noted that all the submissions dealing with the media overlapped to a great extent. In the light of this, discussion ensued only at the end of all the submissions.
Print Media Association
Various members of the Print Media Association were present. Included amongst these were Mr M Williams, the editor of the Argus, and Ms E Du Toit, who commenced the presentation by indicating that their association represents a total number of 660 members. They indicated that Section 16 of the Constitution (the freedom of expression clause) lay at the heart of any democracy and the two concepts were inextricably linked.
Their rationale was that the people have trusted the government by putting them into power, now government must do the public a similar courtesy by trusting the public to decide for themselves what they regard as offensive material. When government fails to do this they succeed in insulting the public. They continued with an enunciation of those provisions in the Bill which they found to be constitutionally objectionable.
Mr Van Rooyen indicated at the start that he supported the underlying principles which were enunciated by the Print Media Association. With regard to the issue of limiting the rights of the media he indicated that he had great confidence in what he referred to as ‘industry-based control’. Thus, he felt that Boards which are already in existence and have been created to exercise control over media (for example, the Advertising Standards Authority) would exercise sufficient control over media organisations to ensure that no lines were crossed to the extent of offending the ‘fair-minded’ public. He intimated that industry-based control was an appropriate mechanism to deal with abuses of freedom of expression as it was speedy, open, and informal. He added that, because of these advantages, this was a far better mechanism to deal with complaints than having to resort to the courts on the basis that specific legislation had been contravened. An exposition of the specific provisions of the Bill with which his organisation was dissatisfied with was given
Freedom of Commercial Speech Trust
Mr Piet Delport said that his organisation is a voluntary body formed to protect and watch over freedom of commercial speech as enshrined in the Constitution. They support the principle that the consumer should get more rather than less information. With regard to commercial communication, they supported self-regulation. Contrary to what people generally believed, self regulation did work. It regulates things as dynamic and diverse as the economy of South Africa as the Johannesburg Stock Exchange is regulated through self-regulation.
The Trust fully supported the principles of the Bill. The injustices of the past had to be rectified. However Clause 6.2 of the Bill, especially the part dealing with commercial communication: " No person should publish or display any advertisement or notice…" , was too consequential to be part of the Bill. The Bill had bigger aims in mind and as such Clause 6.2 should not be part of the Bill. If this clause remained, then adverts that were, on face value only, discriminatory (such as the series of Castrol and Nando adverts) would be banned. These were harmless parodies designed to entertain. The intention of a such a communication was also important to bear in mind since clearly the intention of these advertisements was not to discriminate.
Besides consumers there were also commercial competitors who would use clause 6.2 as an opportunity to lodge complaints against such adverts on the basis that they were discriminatory but there would be a hidden agenda to disrupt a competitor's commercial campaign.
He suggested that the alternatives would be to keep the self regulatory situation as it is. Thus the ASA should be kept. Many people had different views as to whether the ASA worked or not. The mere fact that there was this hype and uproar around this question showed that it did work. The ASA had an efficient way of dealing with complaints and should not be interfered with. Alternatively clauses 6(2) should be taken out of the Bill and put in a separate act, which could run parallel to a certain extent with the ASA and the functions of the ASA.
Freedom of Expression Institute
Mr Mandla Seleoane began the Freedom of Expression Institute presentation. The broad principles enshrined in the Bill were supported since it appreciated the importance of promoting equality in South Africa given its past. Nevertheless the promotion of equality could not be done at the expense of freedom of expression. There was no hierarchy in respect of the rights in the Constitution since the courts have said that they have an equal status. Thus one should not compromise freedom of expression in the pursuit of equality – not that the right to equality was not important. Prejudice could only be fought effectively in a society where there was open and free discussion. The suppression of compromise freedom of expression would result in the creation of an atmosphere where prejudice would thrive.
The proposals were that sections 6(2);8(e) and 48 should either be eliminated or amended to conform to the Constitution. The problem with 6(2) was that it short circuits the constitutional provision in section 16(2) to the extent that, in terms of 16(2) of the Constitution, one would expect that advocacy of hatred based on race, gender and so would be prohibited. One would expect that what would be prohibited would be statements, the effect of which is incitement to cause harm etc. With section 6(2) the threshold is much lower than what the Constitution says. Thus it should either be removed or it should be made sure that it was in line with the Constitution so that it did not end up reducing the constitutional right to freedom of expression.
The other problem with 6(2) of the Bill was that intention was not required in terms of the effects that were contemplated. All that was needed was the indication that there was the intention but actual intention was not required. Thus the effect was that the test which was normally applicable in these situations was lowered and there was thus a need to revisit this section if it was going to be included at all.
Freedom of expression embodied in 16(2) came already limited in the language of the very section that guarantees us our freedom of expression. Thus limitations stipulated in Section 16 of the Constitution should be seen as exhaustive and no other limitations should be included in new legislation as in section 6(2) of the Bill.
Ms Laura Pollecutt continued the submission by saying that the definitions were altogether too complicated. They were adamant that if the Act is to be of use to the most disadvantaged in society, they should aim to make it as simple and accessible as possible.
Section 3 seems unnecessary in that it repeats what is in the Constitution. Because of the supremacy of the Constitution it also seems unnecessary to prescribe the contextual and purposive approach to interpretation. This should just be a matter of course regardless of the legislation.
Section 6 and section 8 (a) should be removed because of the threat to freedom of expression. Chapter 5 should be the way of resolving problems of the discrimination these sections sought to curb. This is because it is their belief that it is only "awareness and the promotion of a climate of understanding, mutual respect and substantial equality", which will effect behavioural changes necessary to eliminate discrimination. It would be inappropriate to drive it underground.
FXI expressed a concern that although the bill has the make-up of a piece of civil legislation, section 47 introduced the Criminal Procedure Act. This is problematic for several reasons including the fact that it could see the Act falling between two stools so to speak.. But their major concern with this section is that it introduces the controversial sections 188, 189 and 205 of the Criminal Procedure Act. For decades, the media have had an on-going battle regarding the thorny issue of protection of sources. Currently the South African National Editors Forum and the Departments of Justice and Safety and Security are attempting to resolve this matter to the satisfaction of all parties. To introduce these controversial sections in this Act would be inappropriate. FXI contends that the rules of discovery are sufficient to ensure that evidence is produced where relevant.
Finally FXI argued fairly strongly that to ban hate speech would not result in less racism and pointed to Germany where Nazi regalia and mementos are banned, yet there has been a rise in neo-Nazism.
The Chairperson commenced this portion of the meeting with a brief introduction. He noted that with the advent of democracy began the elimination of discrimination. What this Bill envisaged to do was to balance the right to equality with freedom of expression. The essence of the current debate may be summed up in one question: to what extent must the legislature give freedom of expression the unfettered right to continue?
Dr Davies (ANC) noted that, from the submissions, he had detected a variety of opinions. He asked for clarity as to whether what was being requested by the various media organisations was no limitation whatsoever or some kind of limitation.
Print Media stated that most people are fair-minded, and, as such, people had a right to make their own decisions as to what they wanted to read or not. This was not a task for the authorities. They added that the government of a democracy should behave like democrats and that they should realise that people will not simply accept everything that they hear – if it is absurd,then people will realise that it is absurd.
The Chairperson interjected to ask what would happen if there was a group in society that was continually insulting others (for example, on religious grounds). In this case, should there still be no intervention by government legislation?
The reply to this was that the argument was noted and that such a situation was reprehensible. However the underlying point remains: one must rely on the pillars of democracy - people have a right to express themselves and others have a right to hear these expressions and decide for themselves whether they choose to be offended or not.
Mr Moegsien Williams added that one of the aspects of democracy was that you must allow people to say what they think even when you disagree with them. This he described as ‘the uncomfortable part of democracy’. He added however, that he did not believe in unfettered discretion or absolute freedom of the press. The guiding line, according to him, would be the conventions and the morals of society.
Mr Z Langa (ANC) felt that some of the presenters were saying that racists should be allowed to say whatever they wanted. He said that, whilst in section 16 of the Constitution there was a commitment to freedom of expression, it was limited. He wanted to know whether those people who were calling for no limitation to freedom of expression, were aware that they were accountable to the Constitution.
Various members of the panel said that they were not arguing for an unfettered freedom of expression. They pointed out that in section 16, freedom of expression was already limited.
National Newspapers stated that they were not calling for unfettered discretion of the press. Section 16(2) of the Constitution which deals with restrictions on the advocacy of hatred on certain specified grounds and the incitement to do harm is a section that the press would certainly support. They noted however, that S56(1) of the IBA Act provides for a code and S56(2) has been the subject of a proposed change to take place in next year. The result of this change will be that the Code will be more constitutional. The Broadcasting Code provides clearly that, on matters of public interest, if there has been a criticism, the Broadcasting Authority must be approached. This type of censorship was considered by the National Newspapers to be both appropriate and sufficient.
Adv Madasa (ACDP) said that he had recorded two principles, which had been spelt out by the media in respect of what its functions were. Firstly it had been stated that it was an instrument of the free flow of ideas. Secondly it enhanced morality in society among other things. He said that in reality, when the media reported, it used different criteria. When reporting, the profit motive appeared to be one of the main considerations taken into account. In terms of the free flow of ideas, it was the reality with regard to minority parties in government that they are never or very seldom reported on. There was thus clear inequality with regard to reporting. He felt that whilst he did not want the regulation of the media, he felt that he had to support it so that minority parties like his own could be reported on. The difficulty he thus had with the media was that they did not practice their professed ideals.
It was pointed out by a member of the panel that any political party could approach the Broadcasting Complaints Commission with such complaints and the party would get reasonable opportunity to air its views.
Professor Turok (ANC) remarked that Parliament was driven by a need to counter inequality and discrimination. This is the same principle which prompted the drafting of the Bill in question. He questioned how Parliament would be able to work toward this goal if they did not legislate clauses such as the ones in question.
The panel responded that their primary concern was that the legislation would prevent the press from reporting on incidents of racism.
The Chairperson, Mr Moosa (ANC), noted that S8(e) of the Bill in question has a clear intention. It does not ‘catch’ the journalist reporting as the intent in this case is to disseminate news. If, however, a racist editorial was printed, then this would fall within the ambit of the section. In other words in terms of clause 8(e) dealing with the prohibition of the words like "kaffir, "coolie" etc, he understood it to mean that the journalist who disseminates reports of such hate speech would not be in trouble for doing so. On the contrary, the person making the statement would be guilty of unfair discrimination. He wanted to know if this was understood in the same way by the panel.
A member of the panel said that this was the crux of the problem since journalists often sat with the dilemma of not knowing whether to publish something or not and Section 8(e) would add to this problem, opening the gates to frivolous litigation in equality courts. He said that there were many sensitive readers who did not have a very good perception of what was happening and what the function of the press was. These people were easily offended and the Act therefore needed a sifting process to eliminate such frivolous complaints. He said that with boards such as the ASA, one could easily mediate matters with correspondence to complainants which explained the issues.
The Chairperson said that the drafters would have to address the wording since if the problem was with the interpretation of the clause and there was no disagreement on this point, any ambiguity in Section 8(e) should be removed to indicate that the journalist would not be guilty of unfair discrimination.
The advocate representing Print Media Association was adamant that the Chairperson, Mr Moosa, was wrong in his reading of section 8(e) and argued that it stated clearly that if you propagate and publish offensive material under the section you would in fact be guilty of contravening the section.
The Print Media Association was still unhappy with the fact that a racist editorial could be censored. The reason for this dissatisfaction was demonstrated with a hypothetical example. A racist editorial was printed in two different newspapers. The newspapers, knowing its readers, could publish the same article for different purposes. To (a) show its readers how ridiculous the article is or (b) for the purpose of advocating hatred against a particular group. To tell the difference between the two situations was an almost impossible task as it was a highly subjective matter. It would require ‘going into the minds’ of people to determine what their intent was.
Ms Smuts (DP) commented that free speech is not a concept which encompasses only the things that people want to hear. She conceded that hate speech is something which must be curbed, but, it must be dealt with in a specific context (for example a person may be prohibited from carrying a hateful placard in a public gathering of a particular group to prevent the occurrence of imminent violence). Beyond this however, she did not feel that the proposed censorship was necessary as the common law already offers a remedy for the use of intentionally abusive language.
Mr Moonsamy (ANC) commented that he saw no reason why hate speech should not be banned as it incites groups against one another. He went so far as to say that hate speech should be criminalised.
Mr Turok (ANC) referred to the tension between the right to equality and the right to freedom of expression and argued that government was getting a raw deal in this area merely because they wanted to promote equality.
Mr Seleoane of the Freedom of Expression Institute said that the Bill actually reduced what the Constitution gave. They were not asking for unlimited, unfettered freedom of expression . He said that the least that should be done in terms of the Bill is that the freedom of expression given in the Constitution should not be reduced. He said that tension existed between all the rights in the Bill of Rights, not only between the rights to freedom of expression and equality. Thus he felt that this tension should not be resolved through legislation but rather by the courts who he said dealt much better with specific instances of these tensions.
Ms P Jana (ANC) doubted whether there was any contention that freedom of expression was a corner stone of democracy. She however doubted whether freedom of expression was the heart of democracy.
Another committee member insisted that freedom of expression was in fact at the heart of democracy and invited anyone to show him an example of where freedom of speech has inhibited democracy. The inhibiting of freedom of expression was in fact what caused many problems.
The Print Media Association advocate pointed out that according to a recent pronouncement of the Constitutional Court in the case of South African National Defence Union v The Minister of Defence, it was expressly said that freedom of expression was at the heart of democracy.
Balancing competing rights was difficult and she accepted that the Bill did in fact limit the freedom of expression . She said that there was no convincing argument that the limitation of the right to freedom of expression in the Bill was not reasonable and justifiable.
Mr S Pheko (PAC) wanted to know whether Print Media Association was totally against the Bill. He felt that the media had never really protected rights in South Africa, plus they were subjective and Eurocentric. He said that when the media spoke about freedom of the press, this was a Eurocentric concept in terms of which the press had to monopolise freedom, and freedom of expression was interpreted as freedom of expression of the media. The media had to become more objective.
Print Media Association responded that they were not opposed to the whole Bill.
Mr D Hanekom (ANC) felt that some members had wrongly taken the opportunity to slam the media. What was important in the debate was whether the provisions in the Bill, which were singled out were necessary or not. He felt that it would be ideal to achieve equality in society without any limit on freedom of expression. He said that if indeed hate speech did generate acts of hate and violence then the suppression of freedom of expression would need to take place. This was therefore what needed to be investigated. The members therefore had to be clear on whether the reporting of hate speech promoted it or not. It had been submitted that by allowing it, one allowed the opportunity to criticise it. Thus it may be a better thing to allow it than to suppress it. Many disagree with this but it had to be thought through. If it was better to express it in order to deal with it, then the expression of it had to be allowed and vice versa.
Mr A Marais (ANC) said that the habits of a highly deceptive media had been published in a certain article by Norman Soloman, which was very critical of the American media. It was said that they used euphemisms to advance ideas of yesterday but draped in such a manner that it was difficult for courts to take action, hence the notion of subliminal racism. He wanted to know whether the panel was different from what Norman Soloman criticised or whether they fell within what he criticised.
Adv S Holomisa (ANC) wanted to know who owned the media, and if it was still owned by members of the previously advantaged, that is, whites.
Mr Williams said that much transformation was taking place in the media in terms of the historically disadvantaged being empowered.
A member of the media panel stressed that the media did not support hate speech. S 16(2) of the Constitution was seen as already encompassing a good limitation on freedom of expression. It was reiterated that legislation should not take this further. He felt that the common law on limiting freedom of expression was adequate and should be publicised more.
Ms Pollecutt felt that the chapter in the Bill on promotion of equality had to be expanded and was very important. She spoke about the media development agency as well as the Freedom of Expression Institute’s involvement in developing legislation to diversify the media and make sure that the ownership thereof is spread more to ensure more voices in the media.
A journalist pointed out that section 6 of the Bill was open to more than one interpretation and would thus fundamentally hinder her in doing her work since her world would be very uncertain. She said that she would not know when she could and could not report on certain things. She said that they were not there to perpetuate racism and hate speech. She said that without the press lots of racism would not be exposed. She said that clauses such as clause 6 would result in racism being privatised.
The Chairperson, Mr Moosa, said that it was not the intention of any of the members of the committee to limit the freedom of the media to report and disseminate information. He did not think that it was the intention of parliament or government to do so either. He said that there was not too much of a variance between what committee members and what the panel believed was the role of the media. The variance was at a more technical level concerning the challenges that the media may face given the way the Bill has been drafted. He wanted to engage with the media at precisely this level so that what the committee next received from the media were documents containing clauses which the media had drafted to deal this issue. He said that parliament had to pass a law outlawing hate speech and therefore these submissions by the media were necessary to ensure that their freedom of expression was in fact not hindered. The meeting was adjourned.
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