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ANC leader’s attack on media out of order

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“Why do you call yourself the governing alliance when you are not in charge of the public broadcaster?”

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule. File photo: ANA/Itumeleng English

AROUND the world, dictators and autocrats have become so emboldened by their attacks, to varying degrees, on media, that an incident on Tuesday at Luthuli House has become our accepted reality in 2019.

Dictators, and even democratically elected leaders like Donald Trump, have used the phenomenon of fake news to attack press freedom and ­harass journalists.

Last week, the ANC’s secretary-general, Ace Magashule, lashed out at the SABC, hinting that it was time for the party to take control of the public broadcaster.

Magashule is reported to have said: “It is amazing, because our friends throughout the world are asking us a question: How are you governing?

“Why do you call yourself the governing alliance when you are not in charge of the public broadcaster?”

On Tuesday, the ANC called the media for a press briefing following a special session of the party’s national executive committee.

What made the news, though, that day, was not the ANC’s pronouncements on various issues, particularly its election lists, but the party’s deputy secretary-general Jesse Duarte’s invective at eNCA journalist Samkele Maseko.

According to Duarte, Maseko’s problem was that he “battered” the ANC with his questions, asked questions which were not on the party’s press statements, had a habit of “making people feel like you’re the Lord of the media”, and being an “arrogant bully”.

And because “the ANC fought for press freedom”, according to Duarte, journalists like Maseko should show gratitude by fawning over politicians like an ANN7 propagandist.

There have been recent incidents in South Africa where journalists have, unfortunately, not acted ethically.

Because these journalists served the factional ends of some politicians, many have remained quiet on the matter.

In the information age, the traditional media channels are no longer as powerful as they were 25 years ago.

Duarte’s view that one media house can turn an election is nonsense, and she should be challenged to prove her claims.

Instead, all South African politicians should be reminded that the media, with a multiplicity of views, is integral to a healthy democracy.

Attacking journalists won’t grow the economy, create jobs or build houses.