The South African government is to launch a state newspaper to explain and promote its work, it has been announced.
Government spokesman Jimmy Manyi, said it shouldn’t only be up to editors of commercial newspapers to decide which government information should be published.
Manyi told City Press: “The media is censoring a lot of government information”.
“Niyasivusa ukuba sizenzele [You are waking us up to do things ourselves].”
He expressed his concern about certain government issues weren’t getting any media coverage at the moment, saying that journalists who attended government news conferences often only would write about one of the issues raised during the conference.
“Everything I say is very important for the public to know, therefore we can’t leave it up to the media to decide what they’re going to tell the public,” Manyi said.
The government has therefore decided to turn their bi-monthly information guide Vuk’uzenzel (meaning “Wake up and do it for yourself” in Zulu) into a free monthly newspaper.
Former Beeld journalist and current managing editor of Vuk’uzenzele, Tyrone Seale, is said to continue in his seat as editor of the new format.
“We want it on the streets, in every township and rural area. It will be bigger than all of you guys put together,” Manyi was quoted saying.
However, not everyone agrees with the government’s new plans.
Elvis Masoga, a senior researcher at the Institute for Dialogue and Policy Analysis, said to the Sowetan Live:
“The government must perform and the independent media must objectively report about its performance. Now the government wants to report about itself”.
According to Sowetan Live newspaper, the Government Communication and Information Services has already put forward a plan for the newspaper, starting off as a 16 to 20-page tabloid with between 1,7 million and two million printed copies.
This would make Vuk’uzenzele the biggest circulating publication in South Africa, costing the government more than R1 million per edition.