'Media should've walked out on Malema'
Johannesburg - All journalists present at an ANC Youth League media briefing in which a BBC reporter was called a "bastard" by Julius Malema should have left in solidarity with him, the National Press Club said on Thursday.
"Journalists need to stick together. It is entirely appropriate to walk out should a news conference degenerate into a shouting match and should journalists be sworn at and insulted," said chairperson Yusuf Abramjee in a statement condemning Malema's behaviour.
"This is not the first time that Malema has chosen to attack journalists and it appears to have become a trend in the past few weeks."
'Air-conditioned Sandton offices'
Malema was criticising the Movement for Democratic Change for speaking out against his visit to Zimbabwe from its office in Sandton.
Malema said Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC, which is in an acrimonious unity government with President Robert Mugabe, will not find "friendship" with the ANC in South Africa.
"They can insult us here from air-conditioned offices in Sandton. We are unshaken," he said, referring to the Johannesburg wealthy suburb.
It was at this point that BBC journalist Jonah Fisher mentioned that Malema himself lived in Sandton.
An angry Malema retorted: "Here you behave or else you jump. Don't come here with that white tendency, go out bastard, bloody agent."
Explaining the outburst later, Malema said the youth league and its leadership could not be undermined "in our own terrain".
"This is not a playground. This is not a beerhall. Don't abuse us in our own space, in our own house... this is my house," he said referring to ANC headquarters, Chief Albert Luthuli House.
Abramjee said such behaviour was "unacceptable".
The Congress of the People Youth Movement warned the "creeping tendency of the independence of journalist being undermined may reap us unwanted results."
It expressed concern over the incident and urged the media to boycott Malema and the ANCYL.
The Democratic Alliance spokesperson on rural development, Mpowele Swathe, said each time Malema "open(s) his mouth, he does damage to our prospects of attracting foreign investment, developing our economy and addressing inequality and poverty."
"His praise for Zanu-PF land invasions, his assault on the Movement for Democratic Change, his assault on our own Constitution and the fact that he threw a journalist out of his press conference for asking perfectly legitimate questions, demonstrates with painstaking clarity that he shares the same deeply flawed and manifestly dangerous characteristics as Robert Mugabe."
He was referring to comments Malema made at the briefing hailing Zimbabwe's land reform programme.