By Pinky Khoabane
EFF Deputy President Floyd Shivambu in an altercation with a journalist outside Parliament
THE moment of the chickens have come home to roost arrived for commercial media, which have been silent on the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)’s long and hostile campaign against television network ANN7’s journalists.
Television network eNCA had its knickers in a knot over a tweet by EFF’s leader Julius Malema in which he accused the network of protecting white privilege and white supremacy. Some of its supporters have even tried to have Malema’s Twitter account shut down.
In an editorial a few days ago, eNCA condemned the EFF leader for inciting harm against journalists of the tv network: “Mr Malema’s tweets have consequences, not least because he is the leader of a political party with substantial representation and support across South Africa. The first of these consequences have been threats to individual journalists in the wake of his online messages. At any other time in our country’s history this would have required a response from the editorial team, not least because it is a question of ensuring the safety of journalists in a democratic society”.
The incident in which EFF’s Deputy President Floyd Shivambu was involved in an altercation with a journalist outside parliament only served to cement the view that Malema’s tweet incited violence against journalists. The truth however is that the EFF has waged a long campaign against ANN7 journalists with much publicity from commercial media and very little condemnation from protectors of media freedom. Shivambu has since apologised.
EFF has accused ANN7 of being a front for corruption without providing any proof and this narrative has gone unchallenged by commercial media as a sign of a silent endorsement of their view.
Through the editorial, eNCA attempted presented its shareholding which it said proved the network was majority owned by Blacks. But it’s too late. These media institutions have allowed the EFF to say just about anything without having to provide any proof. The chickens have come home to roost.
EFF’s Campaign against ANN7
In February 2014
EFF supporters ordered ANN7 reporter Ayanda Mkhwanazi and a camera crew out of the Diepsloot community hall while the party was holding a gathering in the township.
Days later, the party distanced itself from the actions of what they said were members of its party who were not acting on behalf of the EFF. Spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said the party believed in the freedom of the press. He said the organisation would never prevent any journalist from freely expressing their right to work anywhere. Ndlozi said the EFF would also not allow this right to be undermined and violated on its platforms. “Those who acted in that way did so under no official order of EFF,” Ndlozi said.
On February 4 2016
Malema, in room filled with reporters from various media houses told ANN7 and The New Age reporters that they should no longer attend EFF events “as we cannot guarantee your safety.”
SANEF posted on Twitter: “SANEF urges the EFF not to ban journalists working for Gupta-owned media from covering EFF events & press conferences.” It urged, not condemned EFF for denying journalists the right to do their work unhindered.
Meanwhile, The New Age online reported at the time that the the Right to Know campaign refused to comment on the banning of The New Age and ANN7 journalists by EFF saying: “We do not comment on political issues,” a spokesperson for Right to Know was quoted as saying.
On February 5 2016
Interviewed on Radio 702, EFF national spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, said that they were not threatening the Gupta-owned media house but merely running a political campaign against the Guptas and their relationship with President Jacob Zuma.
“We reserve the rights of admission. They are barred. We don’t think they qualify to be called Press”.
In August 2016:
EFF’s Deputy President, Floyd Shivambu, refused to be interviewed by an ANN7 journalist and called her a “Gupta agent”.
“You’re not a journalist, you’re a Gupta agent,” Shivambu said
EFF leader Julius Malema later defended Shivambu confirming that the EFF would not grant interviews to journalists from ANN7 because the news channel “promotes racketeering, fraud and all sorts of criminal activities in this country”.
“We are refusing to legitimise a gangster [that] has captured our country. We are not part of that. We are going to fight tooth and nail to liberate this country from Zuma, from the Guptas,” said Malema.
“We are prepared to go to our graves to refuse to speak to ANN7….She’s an agent…” in reference to an ANN7 journalist’s question asked at the press conference where Malema defended Shivambu. In the background could be heard laughter.
In December 2016
EFF supporters attacked an ANN7 cameraman outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court after #FeesMustFall student leader Bonginkosi Khanyile was denied bail, triggering an angry response from EFF supporters. They then turned on the ANN7 cameraman trying to prevent him from filming the chaos that ensued.
In this case, the South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) condemned the incident calling it an act of thuggery.
In April 2017
Three ANN7 journalists were attacked at an anti-Zuma march. EFF supporters poured water on ANN7 journalist, Nomusa Phungula and chased the ANN7 crew saying they ‘don’t want the Guptas there’.
The Citizen, reporting on the matter had the following headline: “EFF explains why they didnt want ANN7 there”…and later in the piece, it wrote: “At least one ANN7 journalist had water dumped on her for her troubles”.