The days of sitting by while our African editors and journalists are persecuted by their white masters are gone. We shall voice our disgust in our writings, protest and march says Pinky Khoabane
Many of you will not know this, but The Citizen’s editor, Steven Motale was suspended a few weeks ago following the publication of anti-establishment articles. By anti-establishment I mean articles which go against commercial media’s portrayal of their blue-eyed boys and girls as squeaky clean.
Motale, as you may or may not remember, broke ranks from SA’s media cabal a few years back when he penned a column in which he apologised to President Jacob Zuma for what he described as a media campaign against the President, the ANC and in favour of opposition parties.
His claims sparked a furore in media circles so much so that he received an onslaught of attacks from commercial media editors who distanced themselves from the campaign. So much for freedom of speech! But this is the problem with our media, it thinks we are so stupid as to not know there was a campaign. Motale just happened to mention it but most of us were well aware of it. I have stated quite frankly, that our media is anti-black.
The commercial media is run along dictatorial lines where you either toe-the-line or are spat out. In the months and weeks that followed, he tried his best to remain within the boundaries that would safeguard his job but now-and-again he veered outside those borders and in recent times, he seemed pretty determined to play the role of an alternative media that gave two sides of South Africa’s story. He tried to do what the fallacious media is supposed to do – objective, fair, balanced, and all the good words that symbolise democracy and civility. In the real world, none of these words apply for media. Commercial media is a business run along commercial lines and is there to protect its bosses and advertisers.
While his bosses had seemingly forgiven him for his expose’ of the anti-Zuma and anti-ANC campaign, he went too far when he published allegations of former finance minister Trevor Manuel’s alleged irregular awarding of SARS tenders.
In the clip of the interview with a Citizen journalist on the matter, Manuel is heard saying: “Dont F@@@king bother me”.
None of the commercial media and our doyens of media freedom expressed any views on the matter.
A few days later, Motale was suspended for apparently “violating Caxton’s code of ethics”.
Motale’s sin was to do his job as a journalist without fear or favour.
Contrast the response of defenders of media freedom, South African National Editors Forum (SANEF), Right-to-Know and others in Motale’s case compared to SABC journalists which included statements and protest marches.
I have surfed the Twitter account of SANEF and have found nothing on Motale.
I have on Twitter asked SANEF, Right-to-Know and one of the leaders of media freedom and organiser of the Black Shirt protests (Black Wednesday or Tuesday) Yusuf Abramjee if they are aware and would be doing something around Motale’s suspension. Not unsurprising, nothing.
The current situation in South Africa calls for Blacks to stand-up and move in unison to assert themselves. The Forum of Journalists for Transformation is organising a march in protest against Motale’s suspension.
We at UnCensored, call upon everyone who’s available to participate in the march to do so.
Those who cant must voice their disgust at Caxton through platforms such as this one.
Full statement by Forum of Journalists for Transformation
Forum of Journalists for Transformation media statement on a march to Citizen Offices
The Forum of Journalists for Transformation (FJT), in collaboration with the Communications Workers Union (CWU) will march to the offices of Caxton-owned Citizen newspaper on Wednesday 23, 2016.
The march, which is part of the FJT’s media transformation campaign, is in support of suspended Citizen Steve Motale and other Caxton journalists who are victims of the company’s wanton exploitation, editorial interference, institutionalised racism and an anti-black corporate culture, among others.
Details of the march are as follows:
Venue: Citizen Offices, No 9 Wright Street, Industrial West, Johannesburg
The march will begin at 10:00 at Bosmont Park, Albertina Sisulu Road, next to the Cemetery where Albertina and Walter Sisulu are buried.
Protesters will then proceed to the nearby Citizen offices where a memorandum will be handed over at 12:00, to highlight the following concerns:
* Media freedom and freedom of speech;
*Exploitation, harassment and victimisation of journalists;
* Racialised salary disparities;
* And an anti-black corporate culture.
Motale has been at the helm of the publication since 2013 and has been one of the few black voices in the industry who upheld the principles of diversity and impartiality in this largely untransformed industry, The Citizen included, where blacks continue to face widespread discriminatory harassment in the newsrooms.
The FJT finds it strange that the editor was suspended after a damning investigation about former finance minister Trevor Manuel, current finance minister Pravin Gordhan and ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu was published in the paper a few weeks ago.
During this period, The Citizen ran a series about a Hawks probe into Manuel for his alleged role into the irregular awarding of SARS tenders and reportedly responded in unbecoming manner to the journalists who called him. Manuel allegedly approved a contract on modernisation at SARS worth R100 million, currently standing at R1 billion, without following due process.
It appears that Motale has been accused of having a personal vendetta against Manuel, and of running a campaign against him. These allegations are unfounded considering that it is the duty of all newspapers in South Africa to publish stories reflecting all spheres of our democracy and to enquire without fear, favour of social standing.
Another factor, it appears, that led to his sacking was affording SABC boss, Hlaudi Motsoeneng a platform to share his side of the story when the latter was facing heavy criticism from Mthembu and other ANC leaders. We understand that one of the executive directors at Caxton instructed a publisher to fire him ostensibly for violating Caxton’s code of conduct.
The FJT further understands that the same executive director, then instructed the publisher to offer Motale a golden handshake to leave because his “services were no longer needed”. An undisclosed monetary offer was then made to Motale on condition he walked away silently. Motale refused this offer and its condition, saying he could not be bought to keep quiet about these unsavoury developments.
The company then puts him on immediate suspension pending an inquiry. Based on these sickening allegations that have been uncovered by the FJT, we call for Caxton to reinstate Motale immediately if they are genuine supporters of free speech, media diversity and editorial independence.
The tale and fate of Motale is nothing new in the media industry in South Africa. The moment Motale broke ranks with the mainstream media narrative and introduced diverse perspectives and even apologised to President Jacob Zuma for some of the malicious reports that were prevalent during in his endless trials, the FJT knew he was a goner.
It was only a matter of time before the incorrigible white cabal and their lackeys who control the media in South Africa got rid of him. He was side-lined and avoided by most of his mainstream media colleagues for thinking differently.
For enquiries contact
1. Piet Rampedi (President)
2. Denvor de Wee (Deputy President)
083 238 5870
3. Sonnyboy Morobane (Secretary)
082 855 1897