Saturday, October 2, 2010

In defence of freedom

Twenty years after helping defeat apartheid, the eminent writer Nadine Gordimer is fighting again - this time against the South African government's plans to muzzle the media.

"Where do you get your energy from?," I ask Nadine Gordimer, Nobel laureate and lifelong fighter for freedom. This is probably a naff, ageist question, and I wonder how the 86-year-old, who has a reputation for intellectual rigour bordering on fierceness, will react. Happily, she is not insulted. "Who knows where you get it from?" she says. "You must muster your resources and do what you have to do." What she feels she has to do at the moment is oppose the South African government's draconian proposals to muzzle the media. A new protection of information bill and media tribunal are seen by critics as the greatest threat to press freedom since the apartheid era.

If passed, the measures would allow the government to ban the publication of material deemed detrimental to "the survival and security of the state". The catch-all phrase "national interest" would allow it to close down discussion of any topic which threatened to embarrass those in power. It is these proposals which have led Gordimer to don her campaigning armour once more, and go into battle against a government she believes may be about to reverse the democratic gains of the last two decades.

Full report here Hindu

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