Stop the dis­tor­tions, City Press

CityPress - - Voices -

Zizi Kodwa ANC na­tional spokesper­son Read­ing your news­pa­per’s ill-in­formed di­a­tribe (“ANC marches on it­self”, City Press, Fe­bru­ary 21 2016), one would al­most be for­given for think­ing the news­pa­per is lec­tur­ing the ANC and its sup­port­ers on civil ac­tivism.

Af­ter all, why take to the streets when all you need is “a quick walk up the stairs at Luthuli House”? This com­men­tary mas­querad­ing as news is premised on the sim­i­larly ill-in­formed logic that, as a political and gov­ern­ing party, we can­not take our is­sues and con­cerns to the seat of govern­ment be­cause that is tan­ta­mount to “march­ing on our­selves”.

This is a gross in­sult to the thou­sands of ANC sup­port­ers who filled the lawns of the Union Build­ings last week to raise aware­ness about one of the great­est chal­lenges fac­ing South Africa. That there is a dif­fer­ence be­tween an event to raise aware­ness and a protest march is Political Sci­ence 101 – a dis­tinc­tion that ap­pears to have eluded your correspondent.

If he were lis­ten­ing, he would have heard the ANC’s sec­re­tary-gen­eral make it clear to those gath­ered that the ANC and its sup­port­ers were there to mo­bilise our sup­port­ers and so­ci­ety at large against racism, and to fa­cil­i­tate di­a­logue among South Africans on this scourge.

It is telling that your correspondent didn’t in­ter­view a sin­gle marcher, choos­ing in­stead to quote lib­er­ally from the mem­o­ran­dum handed over at the end of the march. This is sur­pris­ing, con­sid­er­ing how many “colour­ful snip­pets” were so­licited from par­tic­i­pants of the ill-fated #Zu­maMustFall marches last year.

Con­trary to it be­ing an in­di­ca­tion that we are “march­ing on our­selves”, last week’s march is a vin­di­ca­tion of the strong in­flu­ence the ANC and all it stands for con­tinue to have in pub­lic life.

The creep­ing ten­dency for me­dia houses to dress up opin­ion as news – the for­mer is a free-for-all and the lat­ter is meant to be fac­tual and un­bi­ased – is wor­ry­ing. So is the ahis­tor­i­cal ap­proach to cur­rent events that has found its way into the news pages. What else could ex­plain City Press’ prob­lem­atic Page 2 snip­pet (Fe­bru­ary 14 2016) af­ter the state of the na­tion ad­dress?

A head­line, “Po­lice State”, was ac­com­pa­nied by an evoca­tive im­age of some­one dressed in EFF re­galia seem­ingly “squar­ing off” against an ad­vanc­ing col­umn of po­lice in riot gear. Ac­cord­ing to City Press, the clashes out­side Par­lia­ment “re­in­forced the no­tion that we have de­scended into a po­lice state, ruled by an iron fist and a zero-tol­er­ance pol­icy to­wards civil dis­obe­di­ence”.

It is un­clear whether City Press’ edi­tors live in the same coun­try as the rest of us. Or if your correspondent ac­tu­ally looked up the def­i­ni­tion of a po­lice state.

If they had, they would know that com­par­ing ANC-run South Africa in 2016 to Stasi-run East Ger­many is a bit of a stretch at best, and bla­tant, un­eth­i­cal ed­i­to­ri­al­is­ing at worst – in com­plete vi­o­la­tion of the press code.

Luck­ily, the on­ward march to­wards a non­racist, non­sex­ist, in­clu­sive South Africa con­tin­ues apace.

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