President Zuma, Sanef meeting a success

Pretoria: President Jacob Zuma’s meeting with the leadership of the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) was a success.

The meeting followed concerns about the jamming of the cellphone signal in Parliament last week during the State of the Nation address.

“The meeting has been very good, very cordial, very frank, very friendly, it has been everything that you can think of and we are very happy after this meeting,” President Zuma said at the Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria, on Friday.

President Zuma has condemned the jamming of the cellphone signal, saying it was wrong and should not have happened.

“Rest assured that this will never happen again and we did not know about it, it was uncalled for,” he said.

President Zuma encouraged the media to educate members of Parliament about behaving appropriately in Parliament.

“We also agree that there must be something said more about the behaviour in Parliament from the media, … to say Parliament is an apex of democracy and it has a specific decorum and dignity… that must not be undermined.

“There must be more writing about that, helping members of Parliament to appreciate that you need to behave in a certain way on behalf of the people who voted for us,” he said.

Sanef chairman Mpumelelo Mkhabela said the meeting was successful as the editors had an opportunity to express their frustration about what happened in Parliament.

He said President Zuma had expressed regret for the cellphone signal jamming.

“There was no need for the President’s State of the Nation Address to be disturbed for the first time in history, just because the cellphones signals could not work, it’s an issue that could have been addressed early,” Mkhabela said.

Sanef welcomed the President’s commitment to meet with the editors to discuss what happened in Parliament and as a forum said they were committed to continue to engage with government.

“We don’t always have to meet when there are problems. We have to talk even when they are no problems, just to have an understanding of how government is progressing in its policies and other things it is doing ,” Mkhabela said.

He said Sanef would arrange to meet with the Speaker of Parliament, Baleka Mbete, and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Thandi Modise, to discuss challenges experienced by the media in Parliament.

“We agreed that things should always be resolved the South African way, through negotiations and conversations.

“That doesn’t necessary mean we will agree all the time, there are many things that we will disagree on but that is part of the South Africa we are trying to build,” Mkhabela said.