The F-word – ANC’s mouth is as dirty as Malema’s

2011-09-03 15:21

How convenient for the ANC to be “horrified” that ­Julius Malema supporters have attacked journalists during this week’s street bashes to show support for the youth league president.

ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu this week said: “We have seen journalists being pelted. We have also seen even our police being pelted with stones, and all types of things.

We are therefore saying this is unacceptable and we put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the ANCYL. We are very concerned.”

The ANC’s opprobrium leaves me cold, to say the least. Both the ANC’s senior and youth formation leaders have set up a scenario that has now resulted in ­journalists being attacked.

Does Gwede Mantashe not remember himself briefing the media at Luthuli House and by extension members of his organisation, saying that “we must realise that in this elections the main opposition is the media. Leave the DA, leave Cope...we will work very hard against that strong opposition”?

Following in those footsteps, Julius Malema added: “The main opposition of the ANC is the media...do not feed the opposition.”

Now that Sapa photographer Werner Beukes and two eNews journalists, Belinda Moses and Cathy Mohlahlana, have been pelted with stones, we are supposed to believe that the ANC is truly horrified by the turn of events.

The ANC cannot reasonably expect its members, who are burning T-shirts of their own party’s president, to suddenly believe that Beukes, Moses and Mohlahlana are holier than the rest of their colleagues in the media that is at odds with the genuine aspirations of the majority.

On the same day Malema was facing the music, ANC parliamentarians were digging in their heels at the committee debating the Protection of Information Bill opposing the insertion of “public-interest defence” to the proposed law.

At the heart of this insistence to jail journalists for up to 10 years for reporting what would be classified information is the lie repeated many times over that the media see themselves as being above the law and deserving special treatment.

Intentionally or not, coming from a very popular and the most legitimate voice of the majority, such views get traction. They are not merely empty rhetoric.

Mantashe should brace himself for a similar assault on the judiciary, especially the Constitutional Court.

As with the media, the ANC has made it a habit to cast aspersions on the country’s judges. The party has sown and ­watered a seed that this group is just as much the enemy as the media.

Mantashe and President Jacob Zuma have led this brigade from the front.

They have used every opportunity they got to show that Constitutional Court judgments are a function of ideological pursuits rather than jurisprudential logic.

The party is of course entitled to criticise any court judgment, but it would help if they employed a legally cogent ­argument and not just slogans.

It is equally free to take the media to task for the many lapses of judgment and to use existing laws to bring us to book.

How apt that this week’s events around Chief Albert Luthuli House have been cast as chickens coming home to roost.

They have shown that it is not enough to mouth platitudes about the virtues of a free media with one side of your mouth and cast it as an ideological pest with the other. It confuses the rank and file.

Mthembu and the ANC should be “very concerned” more than merely “concerned”. It will help if the ANC and not just Malema and his executive committee start minding their language.

If Malema’s words – for he has done nothing but utter words – can be seen to have such profound effect on society and geopolitics, then the ANC is equally guilty of using words to create a climate that made some of their supporters think nothing of attacking journalists.

But unlike the rest of us, the ANC has the power to make those who use words carelessly pay for their folly.

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