Comment by John Robbie

Be positive, South Africa

We had a great day on Saturday: we met for lunch and a good friend had organised tickets and transport to the rugby at Ellis Park – what a day it was and winning against the All Blacks was the icing on the cake and what a crowd at the stadium! It really was brilliant, but I must say, the driveto the ground was a little bit disappointing.

If you listen to the show, then you’ll know that I’ve been talking about certain areas of the inner city that really are excellent – Ghandi Square, Braamfontein, Newtown, but we took one of these drivers who knew all the back roads and we went to various places before we went to the Troyeville Hotel and then we walked to Ellis Park, and I’m afraid there are still areas that are still run down and are absolutely filthy, so there’s a lot of work still to be done with some of them.

We had a great group of people and the conversation was lively, to say the least. At one stage, some of the group were saying they were quite depressed at the news, that it always seems to be negative: corruption, strikes,mudslinging, criticism of government, parties, individuals, etcetera. This was the point of view that was expressed and we’ve had a number of calls reflecting that on 702 – quite recently, it has been a bit depressing.

But one of the group made a very interesting point: he said the fact that all these things are being discussed, they are being broadcast, they’re being published, is very significant. I suppose we must never take it for granted. He also said that in many countries, this doesn’t happen as a matter of course and he’s absolutely right.

Media tends to focus on government, particularly when things aren’t going right and it can create the impression that everything is simply falling apart and of course, this is a way of pressurising rulers, business and anybody else, to up their standards – it’s called ‘public pressure’. And the fact that this can be done openly and hold people to account is very healthy. So in an ironic sort of way, far from this being a negative, depressing thing – as most people feel it is – it’s actually a positive and optimistic thing.

Freedom of expression and of the media in South Africa is something we must just never take for granted

John Robbie

Listen to John's Comment in full here.


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