'Policing facial expressions is a new low': Steenhuisen on Gareth Cliff interview backlash

DA leader John Steenhuisen has set the party's sights on the JB Marks municipality in the North West. File photo.
DA leader John Steenhuisen has set the party's sights on the JB Marks municipality in the North West. File photo.
Image: Werner Hills

DA leader John Steenhuisen has responded to backlash he received for “smirking” during an interview he took part in on Gareth Cliff’s show.

Cliff had Steenhuisen and One SA Movement spokesperson Mudzuli Rakhivhane as guests on his The Burning Platform show, where they discussed politics and the November 1 local government elections. 

Steenhuisen was accused of making an “offensive” facial expression during a panel debate where Cliff dismissed racism struggles as “anecdotal” and “unimportant”.

Speaking on 702, Steenhuisen defended himself amid the backlash.

“Are we policing people’s facial expressions in South Africa? I find it very odd in this situation. It is like blaming a passenger in a taxi because the driver of the taxi jumped a stop street and had an accident with somebody,” said Steenhuisen.

“I was a guest on the show. I was invited to talk about service delivery, and if you watch the full interview, that is exactly what I did. What Gareth did with another guest is his business ... When you start policing people’s facial expressions, I really think we are starting to hit a new low in South Africa.” 

After the controversial interview, Nando's said it was terminating its sponsorship of The Burning Platform with immediate effect

In a statement, Nando's said Cliff failed to create an environment where free speech was possible.

“There are many instances in which Nando’s has not agreed with the opinions of both guests and presenters on CliffCentral.com, but we have upheld their right to express their views as a core component of a healthy constitutional democracy.

“In the case of The Burning Platform episode which aired on October 21, Nando’s is of the view that Gareth Cliff failed to create an environment where free speech was possible by talking over Mudzuli Rakhivhane and dismissing her view while not allowing her to adequately express it,” said Nando's. 

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