Media fraternity wants to meet Zuma

2010-04-10 09:03

South Africa’s media will ask President Jacob Zuma for a meeting to

discuss the behaviour of ANC Youth League (ANCYL) President Julius Malema,

National Press Club chairperson Yusuf Abramjee said on Friday.

“We will immediately write a letter to President Zuma, where we

will express our concerns and appeal for the protection of the media,” Abramjee

said after an urgent meeting about Malema’s treatment of a foreign reporter at a

press conference.

“We will also raise media literacy issues. There will also be a

request for a meeting,” he said.

On Thursday, Malema called BBC correspondent Jonah Fisher a

“bastard” and a “bloody agent“, and accused him of having white tendencies when

he interjected during a press conference on Malema’s recent visit to


Verbal attack

While Malema was criticising Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic

Change (MDC) for having offices in Sandton, Fisher remarked that Malema lived in


Malema launched into a verbal attack which ended with Fisher being

chased out of the press conference. The ANC publicly rounded on Malema, and said

it would urgently meet the ANCYL to discuss his behaviour.

ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said: “The aggressive and

insultive (sic) behaviour to the said journalist that culminated with Mr Fisher

walking out of the [ANC] Youth League press briefing cannot be condoned at


“The unfortunate outburst by Comrade Julius Malema did not only

reflect negatively on him, but also reflected negatively on the ANCYL, the

entire ANC family, our alliance partners as well as South Africa in the eyes of

the international community,” Mthembu said.

‘Bold move’

The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) voiced its support for

the ANC’s stance and described its pronouncement on the matter a “bold”


The National Religious Leaders’ Forum said it also wanted to talk

to Zuma about Malema. The Afrikanerbond apologised to the BBC and said it

intended lodging a complaint with the SA Human Rights Commission about the


Editors, journalists and media organisations including the Foreign

Correspondents’ Association, the Professional Journalists’ Association and the

Freelance Writers’ Association attended the “summit” in Sandton.

Input was also made by the SA National Editors’ Forum.

“Discussions and debate were open and robust. The media fraternity

is united on this issue,” Abramjee said.

The press club believed that Malema’s behaviour contradicted Zuma’s

recent undertaking at the club’s Newsmaker of the Year banquet, where he said

journalists should not be victimised under any circumstances.

Abramjee said it was decided at the meeting not to boycott ANCYL

conferences as “this would amount to irresponsible behaviour by the journalistic


However, it was agreed that journalists could walk out of media

briefings if they felt their journalistic ethics were being undermined.


At the talks, a steering committee was elected representing various

media bodies and organisations.

“The media being treated with contempt must cease immediately, as

well as the name calling. We will continue to address issues that infringe on

media freedom,” said Abramjee.

The ANCYL has threatened to expose journalists’ private details in

reaction to articles about Malema’s directorship of a company awarded

multi-million rand tenders in Limpopo.

Malema has alleged that journalists have sex with politicians for

stories, get them drunk to get information from them, and accept “brown


A group of political reporters has already lodged a complaint with

the ANC regarding the allegations.

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