Abuse of media not acceptable

EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu has been caught on camera intimidating a multimedia journalist outside parliament on Tuesday 20 March 2018.
EFF’s Floyd Shivambu intimidates journalist outside parliament EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu has been caught on camera intimidating a multimedia journalist outside parliament on Tuesday 20 March 2018.

Credit to EFF leader Julius Malema for publicly rebuking his deputy, Floyd Shivambu, for his manhandling of a journalist in Cape Town earlier this week.

Hopefully, Malema's strong words at the party's Human Rights Day rally in Mpumalanga yesterday would go a long way in teaching EFF leaders and supporters that this type of conduct against journalists, or anyone for that matter, is unacceptable.

"No journalists must feel threatened in the EFF," Malema told the crowd, "whether it's the reactionary eNCA or not, let us not threaten them."

Sadly, however, Shivambu's behaviour towards the journalist - whose only crime was to take a picture of him and ask for a comment on a story - is but a symptom of what seems to be a bigger problem within the EFF.

Although the EFF gets more than its fair share of coverage from the media, the party has a love-hate relationship with the Fourth Estate. Just the other day Malema accused eNCA, a television station that covers every major EFF activity live and without fail, of pushing an "anti-black agenda" and supporting white supremacy. He provided no evidence of this.

While we accept his right to call out media houses where he feels that they are doing wrong, we believe that accusing eNCA of being pro "white supremacy" is tantamount to declaring the station "an enemy" that should be attacked and destroyed.

Viewed along with Malema's utterances, Shivambu's action appears not to have been an isolated case of an outburst by a politician who was having a bad day at the office.

If the EFF, or any other party, has concerns over how some media organisations cover them, they should take the matters up with those houses and stop issuing inflammatory statements that may even result in journalists being harmed.

The transformation of the media industry - as is the case with all other industries in the hands of the private sector - is a matter that deserves special attention.

But, if there is going to be positive change, it would come through constructive engagement rather than the manhandling of reporters and the hurling of insulting labels at media houses, some of whom are black majority owned.

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