The South African media’s role during the coronavirus pandemic has been influential in spreading messages that have helped to slow down the disease, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday.Speaking in his weekly message, Ramaphosa said the media has suffered financially during the lockdown restrictions but continued to assist the government to convey messages urging people to play their part to contain the virus.
The dissemination of Covid-19 awareness messages was relentless despite having limited resources and taking a toll on the media’s finances, which saw some media houses going out of business, he noted.
He urged South Africans to support the media, saying the industry’s work was essential to the country’s democratic order apart from its crucial watchdog role.
“They have fulfilled their watchdog role by unearthing acts of corruption and maladministration, sparking a massive national debate and leading to a number of high-profile investigations. Through this reporting, they have earned people’s trust,” Ramaphosa said, adding that a free press was not an end in itself.
“It is a means by which democracy is secured and upheld,” he said.
He noted that the media has played, “not just its traditional watchdog role, but exercised its civic duty in supporting the national effort to contain the coronavirus.”
According to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, the country on Sunday recorded 20 Covid-19 deaths – the lowest number since 23 May when 10 people died of the disease.
This has brought the total number of Covid-19-related deaths to 15,447 from the 649,793 people who have contracted the disease since its outbreak in the country in March, Mkhize said.