Open-letter fever hits SA

2013-07-07 06:00

It’s open letter season, sparked by controversial businessman-turned-politician Kenny Kunene, who got the ball rolling when he penned one to President Jacob Zuma two weeks ago.

And open letters – some in response to Kunene’s – have surfaced every few days since.

Kunene appears to have a penchant for open letters. In October 2010, through an open letter, Kunene hit out at Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, saying he had a right to host his birthday party however he wished.

This was after Vavi had criticised Kunene for spending hundreds of thousands of rands on his birthday party, hosted at his former ZAR Lounge in Sandton.

Two weeks ago, Kunene was at it again. He got tongues wagging when he wrote an open letter to Zuma, saying he behaved like a “monster and a tyrant”.

He took Zuma to task for what is now known as Nkandlagate and Guptagate.

The ANC and some of its supports didn’t take it lying down. First to respond was ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu.

Although Mthembu’s letter didn’t address Kunene by name, he was scathing, calling the letter “defamation and slander”.

Read City Press reader Bulelani Mntwaphi’s open letter to Kenny Kunene.

Kunene’s ally, Julius Malema, also recently wrote an open letter, in which he said the ZANC (as he calls the ANC) was “on a constant downward spiral ideologically, politically, and morally”.

Malema was responding to yet another open letter, addressed to him by Thami ka Plaatjie.

Celebrities like Minnie Dlamini and Metro FM’s Unathi Msengana have not escaped the sharp and venomous pens of their listeners and followers.

This week, Dlamini who co-hosts Soccerzone with Thomas Mlambo, on SABC1 was at the receiving end of an angry open letter which received some attention on Twitter.

The writer, Karabo Mothibi, accused Dlamini of being “rude, loud, a bad television presenter, bad MC and bad radio presenter and a bad actress”, adding that she had no talent.

The letter to Dlamini comes hot on the heels of another one addressed to Msengana last month. A listener wrote to her, calling her to order for being harsh to other callers.

“Time and time again I have observed this as a common character of yours, which you bring with you every morning to the show. You put people in check and bring orderliness. It is like you are the disciplinarian of the show.

“You do it with your co-hosts and you do it with the listeners. Well it is distasteful. It makes listeners like me very uncomfortable,” said the irate listener.

She told Msengana that her tone on the radio “drips of sarcasm, arrogance, bitchiness and impudence”.

The station instituted an “internal process” following the complaint, saying: “Each and every listener of any of our shows ... is respected and appreciated by the station, hence our stance.”

Radio and TV personality Redi Tlhabi would not be outdone by other open letter writers. She penned her own, lashing out at Makaziwe Mandela for describing the media as “vultures”.

She was referring to the intense media interest on the health of former President Nelson Mandela, who has been hospitalised at the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria.

Tlhabi also told Makaziwe that she was wrong to conclude that the media was racist. “This is not racism. It is not only foreign journalists camping outside, but local ones as well,” she wrote.

During the height of Mandela’s illness last week, along came Richard Poplak with an open letter of his own, addressed to South Africans.

Writing on behalf of the foreign media, he told South Africans to “get the f*** out of the way”, so they could report on Mandela’s illness.

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