South Africa's Ramaphosa delivers state of the nation address

The South African government acknowledged the importance of the media's role in protecting the democracy of the country ahead of the upcoming 2024 national general elections.

Nomonde Mnukwa, who serves as the Acting Director-General of the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), noted Thursday that "professional journalism and a free and objective press are cornerstones of democracy and serve to hold society accountable," SA News reported.

He said that the government acknowledges the importance of journalists' role in democracy and condemns any kind of violence or intimidation against journalists - domestically and internationally.

Mnukwa further said, "South Africa remains committed to supporting a free and independent press. The protection of journalists is of utmost importance, as it is a form of protection of our own rights."

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), violence against journalists often increases during elections in the country.

Mnukwa's comments came on the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, which is celebrated every year on Nov. 2. This day was announced by the United Nations General Assembly after two French journalists were killed in Mali in 2013.

"This day provides an opportunity for all who believe in the advancement of democratic values and the preservation of citizen's constitutional rights to speak out against any form of violence or harassment of journalists," he said.

South Africa observed Black Wednesday on Oct. 19 to raise awareness about the rights of journalists and remember those who lost their lives while fighting against people in power.

Previously, GCIS organized a panel discussion at the Tshwane University of Technology with more than 100 journalism and communication students to create awareness about the Cyberbullying of female journalists, discrimination, violence, and harassment.

GCIS will also host a webinar on "Violence Against Journalists and the Integrity of Elections" next week to ensure that the upcoming elections don't hurt the journalists.

"This is to ensure that, leading up to the election period next year, everyone is cognisant that journalists keep society informed, and foster democratic discourse and integrity of electoral processes. Details of the Webinar will be shared shortly," GCIS said.

"Government also commends the work done by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) as well as the South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) and various partners on the workshops they have been hosting across the country to prepare media for reporting on the upcoming 2024 national general elections," the department added.

The next year's South African polls will mark the seventh election since the end of the apartheid era in 1994.