Angolan journalists applauded this Monday, 26th, the withdrawal from the parliamentary agenda of the proposals to amend the Law on the Status of Journalists and the Organic Law of the Regulatory Entity of Angolan Social Communication (ERCA) to be reviewed by the proposing body.
Discussion and voting on the two bills were scheduled for Thursday, the 22nd, amid strong public opposition from the class represented by the National Union of Journalists (SJA) and MISA-Angola.
Under the terms of the Executive’s proposal, a member of a political party or member of a deliberative body could practice journalism at the same time.
Journalist Teixeira Cândido, secretary general of the Union of Angolan Journalists (SJA) considers that the MPLA parliamentary group “had a sensible attitude” in suggesting the withdrawal of the diploma proposal.
Cândido adds that the complaints from professional associations lie in the fact that “the contributions they made in the last legislature were not reflected to a large extent in these diplomas”.
For that union official “it is easier to find a press that defines itself as left or right, which is a general ideology and not of a specific party, than to find militant journalists of the party in the exercise of functions and management positions and at the same time practice journalism. It is not possible to conceive of impartiality and impartiality in this context”.
Regarding the proposed ERCA law, Teixeira Cândido argues that any changes should not be made outside the “Framework Law”, approved in 2021, according to which future regulatory entities must, from now on, have boards of directors and their members must be appointed by the National Assembly with the power to license and sanction the media in case of violations of the law.
“Today we have a government department licensing the media, which is a gross violation of the Constitution itself”, concludes Cândido.
Veteran Angolan journalist Avelino Miguel understands that “it would be a great blow to freedom of the press in the country” to approve the Government’s proposals and considers the decision “an unprecedented and intelligent retreat”.
“The MPLA itself reflected on the consequences of approving this norm in terms of its political image and retreated. Now let’s see what changes will be made so that the diploma can return to Parliament”, says Avelino Miguel.
As for ERCA, that journalist also adds that the changes that must be made are in the sense of giving the body the power to license and to have “a direct intervention” in the appointment of the boards of directors of the public media organs “and to stop be dominated by political parties.
“The President of the Republic cannot appoint these bodies”, defends that professional for whom “the Executive was very poorly positioned when proposing these changes”.
In a joint statement issued last week, the SJA and MISA-Angola described the changes suggested by the Government as being offensive “to impartiality, impartiality and deontological freedom”.
SJA and MISA-Angola recalled in a public note that “the current law (Law nº5/17, of January 23, on the Statute of Journalists) establishes that the exercise of journalism is incompatible with the role of member of the board of a political party (al. d) of article 5), and that the Executive’s proposal “removes this incompatibility, opening doors to promiscuity between journalism and party politics”.
As for the proposal to amend the Law of the (ERCA), those organizations consider that it “does not respect the Basic Law of Independent Administrative Entities, regarding composition, appointment of members, as well as the true powers of regulation”.