Grassroots has two weeks to make representations to Stoffel Botha.

The Western Cape community newspaper Grassroots is the latest publication to receive a warning from home affairs minister, Stoffel Botha, in terms of the media regulations.

Grassroots, established eight years ago to provide a mouthpiece for a number of community-based organisations, has a monthly circulation of about 20 000, mainly in the Cape Town area. It has two weeks to make representations to Botha.

In a letter hand-delivered this week, Botha told the paper he is considering gazetting a warning against it for printing "subversive propaganda". Botha said he had examined five editions, from September to December 1987 and the issue of February 1988.

Among the 23 articles Botha mentioned as causing "a threat to the safety of the public, the maintenance of law and order or causing a delay in the termination of the State of Emergency" was a letter from "Football Crazy Comrade" in the September issue, which "promoted an unlawful organisation" by describing ANC leaders as "our leaders". Other articles cited as boosting the ANC's image included a front-page report in February headed "ANC calls for unity", and a plea – also carried in mainstream newspapers – for an end to the conflict in Pietermaritzburg and in the ETC squatter settlement in the Western Cape.

During its eight years of existence, the newspaper has been subjected to repeated bannings and detentions of its staff its offices were destroyed in a mysterious fire in 1985, but it has continued to publish. Grassroots organiser Mansoor Jaffer said: "We reject the right of Stoffel Botha to decide what will be published in South Africa. "The threat to public order and safety in South Africa comes from the minority government of Minister Botha. It is that government which should be closed down, not the New Nation or Grassroots."

This article originally appeared in the Weekly Mail.


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