Press club hits back as ANC urges ‘City Press’ boycott

2012-05-25 00:00

The ANC has called for a boycott of City Press until the removal of the “insulting portrait” of President Jacob Zuma from its website.

This follows a call by SA Communist Party general secretary Blade Nzimande earlier today for a boycott of the Sunday paper when he addressed the National Union of Mineworkers elective conference on the East Rand.

The ruling party said in a statement: “The City Press newspaper, by continuing to exhibit the offensive painting, has clearly shown its collusion with the indecent depiction of President Zuma, which violates his right to human dignity.

“The City Press has therefore become a paragon of immorality, abuse and perpetrator of injustice and slander. Their refusal to remove this portrait from their website and their controlled social media is a clear indication that this newspaper does not belong to our shared democratic dispensation and values.”

The ANC said City Press was “anti-ANC, the president, our democracy and the majority of South Africans”.

“It is our view that City Press has placed profiteering and populism before the principles enshrined in our Constitution. City Press has missed an opportunity to prove to this country that they are indeed committed to our Constitution and its values.”

But the National Press Club (NPC) has hit back, condemning attacks on the media by the ANC and government.

In a statement, the NPC referred to the City Press boycott as well as government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi’s criticism of eNews for not broadcasting the breakdown of advocate Gcina Malindi during the court case over the Zuma painting today as examples of attacks on the media.

Said NPC chairperson Yusuf Abramjee: “The court ordered the media locally and internationally not to replay the footage. It is therefore disingenuous for Manyi to hit out at the broadcaster.”

Malindi broke down during the case in the South Gauteng High Court in which the ANC and Zuma are seeking to have the Brett Murray painting of Zuma, which shos his genitals, declared unlawful.

“The attacks on the media are uncalled for and it’s an emotional response, said Abramjee. “The matter is before a court of law … to call for a boycott of the City Press is inappropriate. It will spur on more emotion and anger. We call on the ANC to retract its statement. The ANC has a responsibility not to continue raising the temperature over this … issue.”

City Press editor-in-chief Ferial Haffajee earlier yesterday described Nzimande’s call for a boycott of the paper as “deeply disturbing” and said she had never claimed that her or City Press’s freedom of expression was limitless. “But our right to publish and to free expression is constitutional.”

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