Media Gunning For Cyril

By Pinky Khoabane

LAST week I asked if the cosy relationship between President Cyril Ramaphosa and media backed by white monopoly capital would come to an end as a result of his announcement that the ANC NEC Lekgotla had decided to back amendments to the Constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation. And indeed the gloves are off and the honeymoon between the media and Ramaphosa is over. The media is gunning for Cyril both at home and abroad. This indicates the seriousness of the land issue.

It started with the tweets from appendages of monopoly capital backed media which we published here and the attack has gone international. The much loved Ramaphosa is suddenly being compared to the much vilified Mugabe. But before going abroad the attack started here and as has become customary with local media, these journalists must find the hook, the buzzword that will capture the public’s mind – and Ferial Haffajee, I cant quite ascertain whether she is still formerly employed since Huffington Post SA is now, according to some sources, closed – but she fired off with the description of a “populist policy” in reference to the decision to push forward with land expropriation without compensation. In a Twitter post she asked if Ramaphosa’s slim margin at the ANC’s national conference forced him to capitulate to the populists. By weekend, other members of the media establishment were also parroting the same line. But they went further, evoking the “failed Zimbabwe state” narrative to compare a democratic decision by a political party to amend the constitution. Words like “violate a constitution” are now being used by the puppets of monopoly capitalists and the usual herd mentality has taken-off not only locally but the international media are also in on the campaign.

By some strange coincidence, Deputy President DD Mabuza has come under media scrutiny despite his controversial political history, which was seemingly not an issue until this past week. In a damning report in the New York Times, Ramaphosa’s ability to control corruption with the likes of Mabuza on his side is questioned. Allegations of corruption and maladministration against Mabuza have persisted for many years and these didnt matter in the eyes of the establishment media when he became their favourite’s deputy.

The Wall Street Journal also followed suit comparing Ramaphosa to Zimbabwe’s former president Robert Mugabe. In an editorial, the publication wrote of “South Africa’s Slide. President Ramaphosa tries the Zimbabwe and Venezuela way. South Africa needs another enlightened leader like Nelson Mandela but it keeps electing imitations of Robert Mugabe”.

And of course local media has clamoured on these stories and are running with them.

But wasnt there a time in the recent past when Ramaphosa was said to be invoking the spirit of Mandela? The man has only been office since the beginning of the year. “Cyril Ramaphosa: the return of Nelson Mandela’s chosen one” The Guardian wrote

Just last month – not even – during the Mandela Centenary celebrations Fin24 wrote: Ramaphosa invokes is inner Mandela

Then a documentary on Marikana massacre in which miners were massacred over demands for pay increase from Lonmin was aired yesterday. Ramaphosa was a non-executive director by virtue of his company, Shanduka, owning shares in Lonmin. His emails the day prior to the massacre to the Lonmin board indicate his eagerness to end the conflict but his choice of language has been interpreted to mean he wanted a heavy handed approach. While the Farlam Commission of enquiry has largely exonerated Ramaphosa, many blame him for the tragedy, the worst in South Africa’s democracy and only comparable to the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960.

The media which had built Ramaphosa as the saint who would bring “credibility” to the country after the former President Jacob Zuma and with his capitalist interest, the establishment had hoped he would stick to their master’s script. The national conference in Nasrec has not given him the lead strong enough to disregard those ANC members regarded as populist. And the big question is what’s next for regime change agents!


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