M E Aupiais
Government spokesman or perhaps ruling party or personal of himself spokesman is the question to be asked of Mnyani. Either way, South African media have huffed and puffed about the comments, worried as government tries to close the noose on media Freedom, already precariously on a cliff face in the Republic.
As for Mnyani, he says the media is like a cartel and refuses to answer on Norwegian corruption allegations.
"I ask myself ... Why is the media so hostile to the government" Myani is quoted by Independent Newspapers' political Bureau as telling Talk Radio 702 host John Robbie.
"They all speak the same, they all think the same" he is reported to have said of the three main media houses, saying media needed to be "diversified", a phrase similar to that of "transformed", by which loyal and incidentally black judges have replaced independent white ones in South Africa's post-apartheid judiciary (South Africa rejects the jury system).
Media in the Republic have claimed new regulations allowing government to prevent publication of articles, stories is tantamount to silencing the press. Media have and have always had no special rights or protections in South Africa, and journalists do get sent to jail for protecting sources, if caught, as with lawyers who have no attorney client privilege.
Manyi said that there were 'shocking' cartel-like tendencies at work in the call by SA National Editor's Forum chairperson Mondi Makhanya asking media to work together in light of the latest regulations suggested. Trade Union and Tripartyd Alliance member Cosatu has slammed the regulations as undemocratically penalising whistle blowers. Their close alliance with the ANC has lead to delays in the regulations' release.
Recently the Regulation of the Interception of Communications Amendment Act mandated that all mobile phone conversations' contents be recorded for the state by mobile (or in South African English: Cellular) Operators. This in addition to smses (texts) which companies already kept for five years after customers made them. Also to be kept for the government: all emails made through or in the Republic.
Added to this, and increased funding for the police now under a Zuma loyalist, and the army, the press claim that media freedom itself is at stake.
In South Africa where the ANC has had a massive majority in parliament since 1996, and the Nationalist party had the same setup before, media has often been the only real opposition voice.
Media in South Africa has been accused of a liberal or white bias, despite most journalists being black. This is not unexpected, and the opposing English (liberal, at times: anti-Apartheid) and Afrikaans (conservative, at times: pro-apartheid) views of the past are both at odds with the more Africanist ANC.
BEE, and transformation laws: mandating massive sale of shares to blacks, and hiring of blacks, and support of charities aiding blacks, not whites: something which has lead ANC allies to have massive unfair business success, have yet to cause media to become an ANC ally.
An attempt at an ANC newspaper failed recently. The SABC, the state run broadcaster has been accused since the days of Thabo Mbeki's presidency of giving cabinet ministers unfair time on television, and radio, and of being a propaganda service. SABC heads who don't toe the party line whether related or not, tend to be called to ANC headquarters.
The majority of South Africans get their views via Government radio, and not the barely penetrating three major independent press houses: Naspers, Independent Media, and SAPA!