Media won't boycott Malema
Johannesburg - South Africa's media will ask President Jacob Zuma for a meeting to discuss the behaviour of ANC Youth League 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 Zimbabwe.
While Malema was criticising Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change for having offices in Sandton, Fisher remarked that Malema lived in Sandton.
Malema launched into a verbal attack which ended with Fisher being chased out of the press conference.
ANC to discuss behaviour
The ANC publicly rounded on Malema, and said it would urgently meet the ANCYL to discuss his behaviour.
"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 all," spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said in a statement.
"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."
The Congress of SA Trade Unions voiced its support for the ANC's stance and described its pronouncement on the matter a "bold" move.
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 matter.
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 in a statement.
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 ANC Youth League press conferences as "this would amount to irresponsible behaviour by the journalistic fraternity".
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 that was awarded multi-million rand tenders in Limpopo.
It was alleged that journalists have sex with politicians for stories, get them drunk to get information from them, and accept "brown envelopes".
A group of political reporters had already lodged a complaint with the ANC over the allegations.