Mainstream media’s aim at Malema ‘undemocratic’
ABIE Zaidannas from Indonesia, in his prism on what the role of the media is in a democratic society, asserts: “Media plays important roles in a democratic society and could not be separated from the democracy itself.
“Ideally, the media is a tool to educate the voters, giving them facts, news and balanced opinions about how the government is run and managed. It is vital to have well-informed voters in a democratic society to ensure accountable and responsible government. A wellinformed society should be able to make rational choices, making sure the government works as the people want.
“Media also act as the watchdog for the government in a democratic society by facilitating the people to articulate their views, demands and aspirations. The media usually is a powerful way to make sure the decision-makers work in line with the voters’ interests, keeping the politicians and public officials in check.”
While Zaidannas and others evoke a celebration of what media in democracy would mean, unfortunately media as we experience it falls short.
In a twist, mainstream media has in this season taken its aim at Julius Malema, leader of the EFF. In what is symptomatic and a sequence to its targeting former president Jacob Zuma, it has locked its focus on Malema, the one who worked with them to vilify Zuma. Let me make it clear: it is not in our interest or aim to defend the EFF or its leader, which is and who is capable of defending itself. We merely cite Malema as an example of how mainstream media reveals its hypocrisy.
Our point is, in a democratic society the right to freedom of speech, access to information and a public opinion defines the premise for the relevance of a media industry. It is a right we fought for since our chequered and known history confirms such a right was non-existent as it was diametrically opposed to the agenda of apartheid. With the advent of a democratic dispensation, it became essential to define this right as a non-negotiable for a South African citizenry.
The media is super-sensitive to any idea of external regulation. It has vociferously campaigned and rallied external partners to plead its case that its right to practise freedom of speech as the carrier of information would be encroached if it is externally regulated.
To this end, despite its political gerrymandering and embeddedness, it has insisted on being an industry that self-regulates.
Yet we will recall a time not so long ago when the same media ran to their counterparts in Europe to support them, since it was claimed the ANC wanted to clamp down on press freedom.
There is no difference in what the media did, juxtaposed to what AfriForum did on the subject of expropriation of land without compensation, when it this year aggressively solicited support from like-thinking racist supporters in the US.
Ramalaine is political commentator and chairperson of TMoSA, the Thinking Masses of South Africa Foundation.