By AFRICA KA MAHAMBA and SIZWE ZWANE
THE AFRICAN NATIONAL Congress has condemned the barbaric action by a group purported to be members of BLF who are reported to have gone to Times Media Editor, Peter Bruce’s home, with the purpose to intimidate him and his family.
ANC National spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said it is further reported that the action of the alleged BLF members was a statement against Mr Bruce’s views and ideological positions.
“This manner of handling differences is an antithesis to the tolerant society appreciative of divergent views we seek to build. The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa guarantees every person in the country the right to freedom of expression, which includes the freedom of the press and other media as well as the freedom to receive and impart information or ideas.
“In the same vein, it is the view of the ANC that where the media sees any wrong doing done by government, by the ANC or any other political party let them speak out. In instances of hypocrisy, inconsistency or utter dishonesty on the part of the ANC or government or any other political party let them shout louder,” said Kodwa.
He said all rights in the Constitution carry concomitant responsibilities. Consequently, the South African Press Code enjoins media practitioners to uphold the highest ethical standards, “maintain credibility and keep the trust of the public.
“Where the media fails to live up to these injunctions, independent scrutiny and co-regulation mechanisms have been created as a response. While these may be inadequate in certain instances, they remain the current platform created to ensure media accountability necessary to shape a democratic society, not intimidation and violence.
“The ANC calls on the law enforcement agencies to investigate this matter and not hesitate to act where there are justifiable grounds to do so,” he added.
The National Press Club adds its voice to those who condemn in the strongest terms the protests by members of Black First Land First outside the home of well-known journalist Peter Bruce in Pankhurst, Johannesburg.
Jos Charle, the chairperson of the National Press Club, says journalists should be allowed to report the news without any fear, intimidation or harassment.
“It is unacceptable that journalists are intimated at their homes. We cannot sit back and watch our colleagues being abused.”
The BLF in a statement their general position is that we respect the freedom of expression and they defend it in terms of the media. However, there can be no freedom to distort; to lie; to manufacture news, and to mount unjustifiable campaigns. Their national spokesperson Zanele Lwana it is clear that these campaigns are being run against President Zuma because of his stance on land; Minister Mosebenzi Zwane because of the Mining Charter; and the Public Protector because of her findings that say that ABSA must pay back the money.
“The white owned media has decided to vilify – to basically damage all of us who stand against white monopoly capital. Those that constitute the white media are no longer journalists; they are hit men and women of white monopoly capital. Insofar as they are determined to continue running such campaigns, we shall vigilantly use our democratic right to protest such an injustice.
“Their right to freedom of expression does not extend to infringing upon our rights in terms of the Constitution. While the white owned media has the democratic right to freedom of expression, writing or speaking about any person or entity via the employment of lies – as is the case with Peter Bruce and the rest of the white owned media – is not a constitutional right. BLF in these circumstances will not hesitate to exercise its constitutional right to protest, as it has done on numerous occasions, including via picketing the wrongdoers.
“BLF would like to warn the white owned media that should they continue to write lies as they are doing – to disappear real stories and manufacture lies – we shall continue to protest against their wrongful and criminal actions.
“We will not be apologetic. Should Peter Bruce continue to run an anti-black people agenda, he must go back home. Anyone who stands against Radical Economic Transformation (RET) is against black people and we are not going to allow them to sustain that project. If Peter Bruce is going to stand against the transformation that we stand for – for land, for mining and for the banks etc that must come to blacks – he must leave,” said Lwana. firstname.lastname@example.org