Dictators, Democracy and Free Press: A Commentary on Black Tuesday.

“The homage we can pay to truth is to use it.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882).

Imagine Robert Mugabe decides to sue Nandos and the creatives behind this ad for defamation. I’m almost sure that in addition to disputing whether or not the Nandos ad is defamatory of the Zimbabwean President, the legal team for Nandos would also rely on the right to freedom of expression which is a basic political right found in almost all the Constitutions of the world.

Freedom of expression is closely linked with freedom of the press and other media as one of the essential ingredients of democracy. The press, especially for countries committed to the path of democratisation, is meant to serve as the medium of delivery and transmitting ideas to and from the People. There is however a danger of unnecessarily and irresponsibly hiding behind democracy to justify every action of the press. It is within the context of these two extremes that the following comments are made on South Africa’s latest Bill to be tabled before Parliament: The Protection of Information Bill aka ‘Secrecy Bill’

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