Media, EFF must smoke peace pipe

EFF leader Julius Malema addresses EFF supporters in Parktown.
EFF leader Julius Malema addresses EFF supporters in Parktown.

Tensions between the media and political parties are to be expected in a functional democracy.

The media cannot play its watchdog role without regularly rubbing those who wield power and influence the wrong way.

Journalists are not infallible and in playing their role in society they are bound to make mistakes, some very serious, and if that happens they should be called out.

However, there has been a concerning development of unhealthy relations between the Fourth Estate and the EFF over the past few months.

What started as disagreements over how sections of the press handled certain political stories has degenerated into a worrying trend of insults and intimidation often directed at individual journalists and certain media houses. Journalists who write stories that are deemed to be "hostile" towards certain leaders are called unprintable names on social media.

According to the South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef), some EFF supporters have even used social media to call for certain female journalists to be raped.

All of this, as well as the fact that the EFF has turned down Sanef's pleas for a meeting, has prompted the editors' group to take an extraordinary step of laying charges against the third-largest political party in the country.

It is a sad state of affairs as, ideally, the media should never be in a situation where it finds itself laying criminal charges against a political party.

It should be possible to resolve differences through dialogue.

The EFF is not the first, and certainly not the last, political party to be in conflict with journalists. This happens all the time. But what has been worrying in this case is that some of the party's supporters are threatening violence against journalists.

The EFF says none of its leaders have done so, but we are not convinced that they have done enough to reprimand some of its supporters and members who issue insults and threats on a regular basis.

We call upon the party and Sanef to meet as a matter of urgency to resolve the differences.

It is at that platform where the EFF can raise the party's concerns, some genuine, about the conduct of some members of the Fourth Estate.

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