Don’t si­lence my right to set things straight

The Star Early Edition - - LETTERS - Sam Dit­shego

I HOPE that this year, Africans who work for cor­po­rate me­dia out­lets and the SABC will not prac­tise self-cen­sor­ship to pla­cate their bosses.

They should let in­for­ma­tion flow freely with­out hin­drance so that those who feel ag­grieved should not see the need to re­sort to so­cial me­dia.

John Swin­ton, a New York jour­nal­ist, said: “There is no such thing as an in­de­pen­dent press. You know it and I know it…”

Late last year, I re­acted to a study on African peo­ple in a let­ter that was pub­lished in The Star of De­cem­ber 7. On De­cem­ber 13, a joint let­ter re­spond­ing to my let­ter and signed by two pro­fes­sors and two doc­tors was pub­lished in which they said what I had writ­ten was not cred­i­ble.

The fol­low­ing day, I pro­vided proof of the dan­gers of vac­cines and emailed my re­sponse, but The Star de­cided to halt the de­bate. My re­sponse was not pub­lished.

This is not only cen­sor­ship but also a vi­o­la­tion of my free­dom of ex­pres­sion, which the con­sti­tu­tion of this coun­try guar­an­tees to ev­ery­body. This laid bare the tru­ism that free­dom of the press ex­ists only to those who own it.

The SABC con­tin­ues to be bi­ased in favour of the ANC and its al­liance part­ners. All ANC events are cov­ered live, just like their an­niver­sary on Sun­day. How­ever, other po­lit­i­cal par­ties do not en­joy the same priv­i­leges.

The me­dia and aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions con­tinue to por­tray Nel­son Man­dela as an icon. What is an icon? Here is a dic­tionary def­i­ni­tion of an icon: a per­son or thing re­garded as a rep­re­sen­ta­tive sym­bol or as wor­thy of ven­er­a­tion. Man­dela is also por­trayed as a per­son who lib­er­ated South Africa. There is a spe­cial day set aside to cel­e­brate him. His por­trait is on South African cur­rency.

Is Man­dela a lib­er­a­tor and an icon? Two found­ing mem­bers of the Pan African­ist Congress who were on Robben Is­land, Zeph Mothopeng and Jafta Masemola, went to their graves main­tain­ing that Man­dela was a sell-out. In 1970, PAC found­ing pres­i­dent, Robert Sobukwe said Man­dela was an op­por­tunist.

There are books pub­lished long af­ter those PAC lead­ers made their pro­nounce­ment on Man­dela that cor­rob­o­rate th­ese lead­ers’ ob­ser­va­tions.

One of those books was writ­ten by John Pil­ger – Free­dom Next Time – and it has a chap­ter ti­tled Apartheid Did Not Die. Man­dela star­tled Pil­ger dur­ing an in­ter­view held af­ter he as­sumed of­fice, say­ing pri­vati­sa­tion was the fun­da­men­tal pol­icy of his gov­ern­ment. Pil­ger wrote: “Man­dela, too, fos­tered crony re­la­tion­ships with wealthy whites from the cor­po­rate world, in­clud­ing those who had prof­ited from apartheid.

“He saw this as part of ‘rec­on­cil­i­a­tion’. Per­haps he and his beloved ANC had been in strug­gle and ex­ile for so long they were will­ing to ac­cept and col­lude with the forces that had been the peo­ple’s en­emy”.

The sec­ond book is Lost in Trans­for­ma­tion by Pro­fes­sor Sampie Ter­re­blanche, who re­vealed that Man­dela held se­cret meet­ings with Harry Op­pen­heimer at his Bren­thurst es­tate, and later when they were joined by some ANC lead­ers, the meet­ings were moved to the Devel­op­ment Bank of South­ern Africa and were held at night.

The cor­po­rate me­dia and aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions have made up their minds that Man­dela is an icon and a lib­er­a­tor. Their opin­ions are cast in stone de­spite pal­pa­ble ev­i­dence to the con­trary.

They feed this in­tel­lec­tual pap to poor stu­dents and bom­bard their au­di­ences with pro­pa­ganda. It’s go­ing to take a sea of change and a rad­i­cal par­a­digm shift in con­scious­ness to put Man­dela and the ANC in their right place as sell-outs and el­e­vate the right lib­er­a­tors and icons such as Sobukwe, Mothopeng, Masemola, Steve Biko and Onkgopotse Tiro in their right and proper places. It is the task of the PAC and Black Con­scious­ness Move­ment to per­form that task once they are united. Kag­iso

LIB­ER­A­TOR OR SELL-OUT? Ed­mond Hlatswayo sits in front of a mu­ral de­pict­ing Nel­son Man­dela, who sev­eral found­ing mem­bers of the PAC claim was an op­por­tunist.

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