Don’t even think about it, Mahlobo
The mere thought that State Security Minister David Mahlobo is considering regulating social media is bad enough. We don’t have to wait for him to actually implement it to let him know that it would not be acceptable in a constitutional democracy.
At any rate, Mahlobo is already battling with the workload before him, so he’d best not take on any other responsibilities.
This is a minister who has missed so much happening around him, including major outbreaks of violence around the country, such as in Tshwane after Thoko Didiza was announced as ANC mayoral candidate last year.
Mahlobo could not even regulate himself when he visited a brothel in Mpumalanga and hobnobbed with a well-known rhino poacher – major slip-ups for a security minister.
In the same briefing where Mahlobo flagged the idea of regulation, he also spewed conspiracy theories about how individuals and institutions were trying to overthrow President Jacob Zuma’s regime. This is the kind of stuff he feeds the superstitious Zuma and what probably keeps him in his job.
The theories are obviously also used to support the case to meddle in people’s private spaces. Over time, South Africa has particularly developed a robust media, an independent judiciary and a dynamic society that takes to the streets to march over all sorts of issues. And this is how it should be.
By trying to intrude into this space, Mahlobo is proving the belief that, as the governing party is losing power, it increasingly turns to authoritarianism to control people’s thinking.
Mahlobo said “even the best democracies that are revered, regulate the space”. We are waiting for him to give examples of these “best democracies”.
China, perhaps? Zimbabwe, even?