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Principle and truth should

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We have seen in the past how some trade unionists would also help in the fight for state power to, in the end, get cushy jobs in government

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo chairs the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency(ANA)

IT IS THAT silly season of elections when populism, narrow nationalism, right-wing politics, among other things, are employed by politicians in a race to the bottom to get votes, at the expense of the truth and principle.

But it is not only political parties that are in the scramble to capture state power. Various competing interests in key sectors of society are also contesting for state power, albeit not as registered political parties.

As a nation, we have come to know what state power can bring through inquiries such as the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture and the commission of inquiry probing allegations of impropriety at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC).

The two probes have shone a light on why many among our politicians and business people want state power, sometimes at all costs.

We have seen in the past how some trade unionists would also help in the fight for state power to, in the end, get cushy jobs in government.

The media is not all innocent in the sometimes dirty fights to control state levers. It would help to remind ourselves that our task is to pursue the truth and align ourselves with the interests of our country in fighting poverty, inequality and unemployment, by pursuing a clear transformation agenda.

It is in telling all sides of the stories in a fair, balanced and accurate manner that we can fulfil former President Nelson Mandela’s advice that we should do our work with professional integrity and responsibility.

Addressing the 10th anniversary celebration of the Institute of Advanced Journalism in Johannesburg in June 2002, Mandela said to the media: “Be critical guardians of democracy and freedom, but respect your audience, the targets of your criticism and reporting, but above all else your own integrity as a social institution.”

The founding father of our democracy continued: “It demeans all of us in society if one picks up a newspaper and disbelieves its stories at the start, waiting for further proof before you give credence to it. Or, if one detects basic flaws in stories and reports that could have been easily corrected by good, basic journalism and editing.”

Mandela’s words still ring true, and are a reminder that ours as the media is the pursuit of truth in a principled manner to ensure our country transforms to deliver a better life for all.