Communication and Democratic Reform in South Africa

Communication and Democratic Reform in South Africa

Communication and Democratic Reform in South Africa

Communication and Democratic Reform in South Africa

Synopsis

The book examines the reform of the communications sector in South Africa as a detailed and extended case study in the transition from apartheid to democracy. The reform of broadcasting, telecommunications, the state information agency, and the print press from apartheid-aligned apparatuses to accountable democratic institutions took place via a complex political process in which civil society activism, embodying a post-social democratic ideal, largely won out over the powerful forces of formal market capitalism and older models of state control.

Excerpt

The Mount Grace Country Hotel in Magaliesburg isn't really far enough from Johannesburg to qualify as a “bush” resort, but it has the kind of rural, almost colonial, elegance to be familiar as a posh, quiet getaway spot for the white South African elite. Perhaps this is why the Minister of Posts, Telecommunications and Broadcasting Dr. Z. Pallo Jordan craftily chose it as the venue for the National Colloquium on Telecommunications Policy in November 1995. Where once they could set foot at the Mount Grace only as busboys and chambermaids, black delegates to the colloquium would mix with their white counterparts on equal footing. Jordan had been on the job as Cabinet minister for a little over a year, since the African National Congress alliance received the lion's share of the vote in South Africa's first free election in April 1994 and took the reins of government as the dominant bloc in a multiparty government of national unity. A respected ANC intellectual, Jordan was rumored to be bored with this second-rank ministry and disengaged from its operations. Yet he had initiated an unusual policy-making process in which the public, and sectoral “stakeholders” in particular, were directly engaged in policy formulation. Called the National Telecommunications Policy Project (NTPP), the process was moving on schedule toward its next crucial phase, this so-called colloquium.

The colloquium was designed to bring together representative stakeholders in the telecommunications sector to discuss the future of the industry in the new, post-apartheid South Africa. A Green Paper, which described the nature of the South African telecommunications sector and its problems and posed a series of questions on various policy options, had been published some months previously. Reactions, comments, and answers to the Green Paper questions coming from all . . .

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