13/02/2017 13:37 SAST | Updated 13/02/2017 13:40 SAST

There Was No Crackdown On Media During Sona, Says Speaker Mbete

Journalists say they were blocked from some areas and security is tougher every year.

Parliamentary Speaker Baleka Mbete
REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Parliamentary Speaker Baleka Mbete

There is no way that Parliament would go all out and institute a crackdown on journalists, Speaker Baleka Mbete says.

This was in response to the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) expressing concern over security crackdown on the media during President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address (Sona) last week.

Some journalists were prevented from doing their jobs as events unfolded, including during the dramatic ejection of parliamentarians.

But on Monday, Mbete denied claims of a crackdown.

"We view journalists as part and parcel of a democracy, where we find that there is a very important role that journalists play and in fact we have made statements to that effect."

To say there was a crackdown on journalists, she said, was not a true reflection of the relationship and the arrangements made with media ahead of Sona.

"I made it clear, journalists play a vital role, and so there is no way that Parliament can go all out and crackdown on journalists," she said.

Parliament would welcome detailed reports on the matter, she said

On Sunday, Sanef called on Parliament's political and administrative leadership to address the heightening of security measures and securitisation.

"We are clearly seeing an increase in security since 2015, and seeing it get worse and worse every year," deputy chairperson Katy Katopodis said during a briefing in Cape Town.

Riot police blocked off a road that journalists needed to use in order to return to their offices and makeshift studios, ignoring their shouts to be let through.

Police also prevented some photographers from capturing scenes in the precinct.