The Press Law of 2006 provided for a
number of subsidiary statutes and decrees to govern the media. These have
now been enacted as laws in own right.
Chief among these are the Law on the
Exercise of the Activity of Television
Broadcasting, Law on the Exercise of
the Activity of Radio Broadcasting, the
Law on the Statute of the Journalist and
– most importantly – the “Carteira de
Jornalista”, the licence to practice journalism. In the event of any journalist
found working without being licenced,
the employing media house can be
punished with a fine equivalent to ten
median public service salaries. The fine
triples in the case of a repeat violation.
The new law also makes it illegal for
journalists to work as public relations
professionals, a common practice in Luanda, often with conflicting interests. In
terms of the new Press Law, journalists
can face disciplinary, civil and criminal
sanctions, with fines of between USD
600 and USD 120,000 if found guilty
of violating the law. The new law even
criminalises the publication of images,
such as cartoons, that can be deemed
“offensive to individuals”. Once the
new set of laws comes into effect, media
practitioners will have 90 days in which
to comply. MISA-Angola expressed its
displeasure at the fact that the new law
empowers the Communications Minister to stop any broadcasting without
any contestation mechanism or review
process. Another issue that has raised
eyebrows is the hefty amount of USD
210,000 required to start a new agency.
Oddly enough, in a region where media
freedom organisations have been fighting to remove all obstacles to freedom
of expression and freedom of the press,
in Angola key people among journalists are actually in favour of licencing
journalists, as they see in it the means
to raise profession standards. Among
those are the Sindicato dos Jornalistas,

the journalists’ professional union. On
previous occasions sections of Angolan
journalists have defended state regulation of the media, pointing to Portugal
as an example where it works well, with
all the elements that the new swathe
of laws seeks to implement, including
minimum tertiary education levels (possibly a “licenciatura” [Master’s Degree])
to be allowed to practice journalism. At
its 4th Congress held in September, the
Sindicato voted to focus its efforts on ensuring the approval of Journalists’ Statute, and the creation of Licencing and
Ethics Commission. The Sindicato bemoans the fact that after 35 years of independence, Angolan journalists do not
have a professional licencing regimen.
By contrast, MISA-Angola has decried
the creation of ERCA. A veteran Angolan
journalist expressed the view that journalists should pressure the government
to enact the full range of media legislation. He accused politicians of pointing
fingers at the work of journalists, while
they are the ones who are hindering the
implementation of media regulation.
At the time of the approval of the bill
in general terms in August, opposition
members voted against, citing a number
of violations of precepts in the constitution, which they labelled setbacks to
rights and freedoms guaranteed in the
Constitution. They also argued that it
had been drafted without any involvement from journalists. However, the Sindicato expressed its satisfaction with the
openness to dialogue and with the way
their concerns had been taken on board.
However, it said it was against criminal
liability, which it believed was designed
to intimidate journalists. It further said
that the bill contained provisions that
were at odds with the constitution. The
MPLA maintains that the text is a compromise to ensure the realisation of citizens’ rights, freedoms and guarantees.
It is important not to confuse ‘licenc-

So This is Democracy? 2016


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