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The chairperson of the ANC in Nelson Mandela Bay, former Port Elizabeth mayor Nceba Faku incited more than 100 party members to burn down the Herald newspaper as he celebrated the party’s election victory outside the Port Elizabeth City Hall on Thursday night.
According to theHerald a senior ANC spokesperson “almost immediately” distanced the party from the inflammatory call, and appealed for political maturity and restraint from party leaders.
Standing at the entrance to the City Hall with an ANC flag on his shoulder, Faku said the party was celebrating an “important battle that is between the ANC and the media”.
“The primary battle of the ANC has been with the media, especially the Herald, in this region,” the newspaper quoted Faku saying.
“Down with white political parties, down. Down with those who vote for white political parties, down.”
The ANC retained control of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro with 51.9% of the votes.
Faku was mentioned in the Kabuso forensic report into municipal land sales and tenders, commissioned by the provincial local government and traditional affairs department.
The Herald went to the courts to force department MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane, who doubles as ANC provincial spokesperson, to release the report.
On Wednesday night Faku told the crowds: “Down with the Herald, down, down. Burn the Herald. Fire to the Herald.
“The Herald dictated that [Democratic Alliance leader Helen] Zille and [Congress of the People’s Smuts] Ngonyama would stand here today and run the metro. The Herald was on the forefront of that — passop [beware] the Herald, passop.
“If you can’t draw the line today — We have to draw the line. We have to go back to the UDF [United Democratic Front] approach. We sacrificed our families, we gave our flesh and blood for the cause of the struggle.
“Go and burn the Herald. We will face a bullet with a bullet.”
As Faku was speaking ANC Motherwell branch secretary Zola Mayedwa approached a Herald reporter and advised him to hide his notebook.
To loud applause, Faku said blacks who did not like other black people and their organisations should be driven into the sea, or go to Europe.
“We need a Malema in this town, we need a Malema,” said Faku, before handing the microphone to ANC MP Cedric Frolick.
Frolick said: “The DA and the media campaigned against the ANC.”
He said they would not allow the “racism” of the DA-led Western Cape to divide Bay citizens.
South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) chairperson Mondli Makhanya said the group was horrified that a senior political leader in South Africa could call for the burning of newspapers.
The last time political leaders called for the burning of literature was in Nazi Germany in the 1930s, he said.
Makhanya called for the ANC’s national leadership to act quickly against Faku and take the strongest action against him for putting the ANC in the same light as Hitler and Italy’s former dictator Benito Mussolini. He said Faku’s utterances were a criminal offence and should be treated as such.
Herald editor Heather Robertson said: “I am deeply disturbed by Mr Faku’s threat to burn this newspaper. It is shocking that he attacks all of us who work for the Herald on the night of what should be the ANC’s victory celebration.
“Mr Faku clearly does not grasp the freedom of expression clause in the Bill of Rights, which was drafted by the ANC.
“Mr Faku’s statements go against the very basis of what the ANC has so valiantly fought for by incitement of imminent violence against the Herald and all who work for it, including members and supporters of the ANC.”
Qoboshiyane distanced the party from Faku’s statements.—Sapa