ANC slams Peter Bruce protesters

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ANC national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa. (Jabu Kumalo, City Press)
ANC national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa. (Jabu Kumalo, City Press)

Johannesburg - The ANC on Friday condemned the intimidation of Tiso Blackstar editor-at-large Peter Bruce, asserting that the right to freedom of speech remained crucial.

Commenting on the fact that Bruce was targeted over his views and opinions, party spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said: "This manner of handling differences is an antithesis to the tolerant society appreciative of divergent views we seek to build."

As such, the ANC "condemn[ed] in the strongest possible terms" the incident on Thursday morning when a group of Black First Land First (BLF) members gathered outside Bruce’s Johannesburg home. 

The group sang in a circle and held placards saying "Peter Bruce why hide corruption", "Peter you murder the truth" and "Peter propagandist of WMC".

Bruce, who serves as Tiso Blackstar editor-at-large, has spoken out against the alleged undue influence of the Gupta family on government.

Most recently he penned a column titled The price of writing about the Guptas, in which he detailed apparent surveillance of him.

On Friday, Kodwa said that "it is the view of the ANC that where the media sees any wrong doing done by government, by the ANC or any other political party, let them speak out," he said.

"In instances of hypocrisy, inconsistency or utter dishonesty on the part of the ANC or government or any other political party, let them shout louder.”

'Cowardly'

However, Kodwa said this constitutional right to freedom of speech, came with a set of responsibilities for the media – ensuring ethical, credible and trustworthy reporting.

"Where the media fails to live up to these injunctions, independent scrutiny and co-regulation mechanisms have been created as a response," he said.

"While these may be inadequate in certain instances, they remain the current platform created to ensure media accountability necessary to shape a democratic society, not intimidation and violence." 

Kodwa said law enforcement agencies should "not hesitate to act" if investigations into the protest showed that there were grounds to take the matter further.

In a statement released on Thursday, Black First Land First said that their protest was against how "white-owned media has unleashed a massive campaign against the truth", because "it hides white corruption and racism of white monopoly capital and attacks whoever is fighting this injustice".

Bruce, the organisation said, was "manufacturing fake news".

Earlier, the Gauteng ANC called Thursday's protest "anti-democratic", while the SA National Editors' Forum said it was "cowardly".

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