Discourse in the South African English-language press : past, Polokwane and prospect.
The African National Congress (ANC) has effected a shift in political discourse since the succession by President Jacob Zuma from Thabo Mbeki following the 2007 National Elective Conference in Polokwane. Subsequent political re-alignments have led to a strengthening of the tripartite alliance, and a perceived policy shift. However the current state of political play has made evident the tensions within the alliance, fronted by the trade unions on the left, and the elitist culture that has developed within the upper echelons of the ANC. This research examines how the political and economic discourses represented by different ruling factions of the ANC-led alliance transcend into assumptions regarding the role and function of the media. It plots policy developments and shifting ANC elite discourse on the media at various conjunctures since the early 1990s. Developments in the South African media are primarily studied from a political economy approach to ownership, control and transformation, as informed by the economic policies of the ANC. Specific focus is given to the economics of the five press houses, Independent Newspapers, Media 24, Caxton, Avusa and M&G Media. A critical content analysis, informed by a critical approach on discourse theory, is undertaken on various editorials and exposition pieces in five newspapers, Daily News, Witness, Citizen, Sunday Times and Mail and Guardian during the ANC elective conference in Polokwane, December 2007. This sample represents the five press houses under study. This study will offer insight into the English-language press" response to the power struggle and succession debate, represented by Zuma on the one hand and Mbeki on the other, and therefore engage Zuma's critique of the media being politically out-of-synch with society. This content analysis in context with the examination into the political economic transformation of the press, as well as personal representation of the ANC elites in the press, will be used to analyse the general discourse of English-language press at this time.