Thu Oct 27 13:09:45 SAST 2016

ANCYL's tactics might put media freedom under threat

By unknown | Mar 29, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

LAST week witnessed another reason why we should not be complacent about the levels of media freedom we enjoy in this country.

LAST week witnessed another reason why we should not be complacent about the levels of media freedom we enjoy in this country.

While it might be too early to say that media freedom is under threat, two radio talk shows left me convinced that there are some among us who for the love of the party are willing to create distortions and spread falsehoods.

Having convinced themselves that they are defending "the revolution" this party-loving gang spent precious airtime defending what was never in dispute.

Despite being told on Metro FM the previous night ANC Youth League spokesperson Floyd Shivambu persisted on SAfm that their "outing" City Press journalist Dumisani Lubisi was part of the patriotic duty of exposing corruption and those who dodge paying tax.

His fans on radio cheered him on. Having created a scarecrow - that journalists think they are above the law - this merry band must have patted their own and each other's backs for putting the damn thing in its place.

It appears that this group simply refuses to hear that their premise is false. Given that the youth league is correctly opposed to the criminalisation of black wealth, we must understand them to mean that the riches they allege Lubisi enjoys, must have come by criminal means.

Nobody has ever argued that journalists who break the law must be treated differently from any other citizen or resident.

In fact, Business Day political editor Karima Brown and Avusa public editor Thabo Leshilo told Metro FM and SAfm, respectively, that if the youth league had any information about any wrongdoing by any journalist they should take it to the relevant law enforcement agencies.

One has to wonder why the youth league is so reluctant to do this simple thing.

If one considers that Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and his deputy, Fikile Mbalula, are, respectively, former national organiser and president of the youth league, you would expect them to get a hearing at the highest level of the police structures.

In the unlikely event of their finding no joy, they could go directly to police chief Bheki Cele or Hawks head Anwar Dramat, who are both former MK operatives.

Instead the youth league's curious reluctance to go to their own former comrades not only casts doubts over the allegations they are making but also over whether they themselves trust the law enforcement agencies the rest of us are expected to put our faith in.

Shivambu's constant retort that they are allowing the legal system to take its course rings hollow. When did the youth league become a crime-fighting or investigating body?

Surely if they have uncovered what at face value appears to be the commission of a crime they should contact the police or any other appropriate law enforcement agency, which they will find thanks to the cadre deployment policy led by one of their own.

Since one can never assume that some of these howlers understand simple concepts, let me restate the point in what I hope will be simple enough to understand: journalists who commit any crime should be treated like any other criminal.

Using one's position to accept money or any other inducement from any person in return for certain favours that you otherwise would not have provided, makes such a person guilty of corruption. The youth league can ask Tony Yengeni or Schabir Shaik.

l This is the final F-word I have written for this iconic newspaper. It is time to move on. I wish to thank the many readers who have sent me responses to this column.

To all those who took offence, it was nothing personal. It has been fun. I have been humbled by your encouragement as I have been educated by your criticism. Keep reading.


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