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Municipal Corporation's media ban angers local government minister

Thursday, November 09, 2017

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LOCAL Government and Community Development Minister Desmond McKenzie is expressing anger at the decision of the Hanover Municipal Corporation (HMC) to bar media access to its committee meetings.

The decision was announced by the corporation on Tuesday, ahead of the sitting of the Physical Planning, Environment and Development Committee.

In a release yesterday, Minister McKenzie made it clear that such a move is “unacceptable”.

“I want to make it clear that there are only two committee meetings to which public access, and therefore media access, is normally restricted. These are the Human Resources Committee and the Poor Relief Committee. Every other committee is open to the media.

“In other words, the meeting of the Physical Planning, Environment and Development Committee, must be exposed to the presence of the media and to the public. I have, since the publication of the story [in the media], spoken with the mayor and the CEO and instructed that the media ban is to be reversed immediately,” the minister is quoted as saying.

The local government and community development minister also made it clear that the Government is committed to press freedom, and political actors at all levels will have to recognise this as a matter of policy.

“If there are issues where councillors say inappropriate things in meetings, those issues cannot be resolved by banning the media. It is the councillors who have to regulate their behaviour, and raise the level of discourse in the corporations to the point where all can admire the quality of the exchanges and the decisions that emerge from them,” he said.

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