Brewer's Droop #249
PRINTING PRESS DÉJÀ VU
That silly woman, Faith Muthambi (you know, the supposed Minister of Communications) has been rattling her sabre again, threatening to regulate print media, accusing them of “unrelenting attempts…aimed at stigmatising a black government led by the ANC.”
In other words, she doesn’t like the fact that journalists mainly pick up on all the blunders, deceit and corruption. The Nats, at the height of apartheid, used to call this “subversive propaganda.” The only difference is that she’s also managed to squeeze in “racism” in her criticism (well of course she did, what else would anyone expect?)
Part of her plan is to control ownership of the printing presses and newspaper distribution – meanwhile the Gupta media empire (New Age etc.,) is receiving many, many millions of Rands from government agencies.
She is already complicit in the SABC ordering radio presenters to stop live call-in’s until after the municipal elections. These are not the actions of a responsible government, it’s the actions of a dictatorship which is terrified of hearing the people; yes those voting people, from airing their grievances. It’s already operating under an instruction that 70% of aired news should be “positive” and has called for “sunshine journalism”. Pah!
Listen Faith, you can bully the media houses but you cannot control social media – which will be your nemesis. You’re not quite as fortunate as the Nationalist Party back in the dark days.
As Kahill Gibran said, “you can muffle the drum and loosen the strings of the lyre, but who shall command the skylark not to sing?” You can’t silence everyone. The internet will get you.
And one last thing Faith (if you happen to be reading this). This is a report from the LA Times from 1998. Parts of it might sound familiar:
02 November 1988: “The Weekly Mail, one of South Africa’s most literate publications opposing apartheid was shut down Tuesday in the latest in a series of attacks on press freedom…ordered by Home Affairs Minister Stoffel Botha. Botha went on to say that the paper’s coverage…amounted to “subversive propaganda”
Not much has changed in 30 years then has it?
But here’s the thing. There is a considerable amount of biased reporting in South Africa (all over the world actually) and it’s deplorable. But you can’t stop it by making dictatorial threats and the government needs to learn this.
Addendum: It was interesting to read in the Sunday Times that Multichoice may pull the plug on the Gupta-owned ANN7 news channel. The storm clouds are looming but the ANC government, being backed into a corner, may very well make even more extremely undemocratic rules to protect their misguided and confused agenda. Considerable caution is needed here.