In its investigation of complaints laid against the Forum of Black Journalists (FBJ) for barring white journalists from its relaunch event earlier this year, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) twice wrote to FBJ chief Abbey Makoe to respond to these complaints.
Makoe never responded.
Thus it was rather surprising that he reacted so strongly this week when the SAHRC released its findings. He claimed the FBJ was being “banned” and likened the findings to a “judicial ambush”.
The commission, also following a public forum held in March on this matter, found that the FBJ had acted unconstitutionally by barring white journalists. It also recommended that the FBJ consider amending its constitution to open its membership to all races, subject to its aim of furthering the “advancement and empowerment” of black journalists.
SAHRC chairperson Jody Kollapen said that the FBJ’s excluding people based on their race was not acceptable, though exclusion based on membership only would have been accepted.
Makoe, however, called on journalists to consider the “circumstances that had led the SAHRC to what amounts as its first banning order to a black initiative”.
He called the SAHRC’s public forum a “shame trial” instead of an opportunity to consider different points of view, and said the FBJ was invited to the hearings “under the guise that it was an open discussion on the question of racism”.
In its response later in the week, the SAHRC said Makoe was being “mischievous” and “untruthful”, and Makoe’s stance certainly isn’t helping diminish the controversy surrounding the FBJ.
The SAHRC is held in high esteem and trusted by many South Africans for its work in the past, and its recommendations — for that is what its findings against the FBJ were — should not be taken lightly.
In rubbishing the commission’s findings, Makoe has simply managed to make his organisation appear even less amenable to fitting into a democratic South Africa than its critics have claimed.
|FULL SPEED AHEAD||NOT SO FAST|
South Africa’s premier all-rounder was this week named the world’s leading cricketer for 2007 by cricket Bible the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack. Kallis was honoured for his 1 210 Test runs at the impressive average of 86,42 and 20 wickets at the relatively miserly average of 25,75 apiece.
|ANC Youth League
The kids aren’t alright. That much was clear from the shambles that the ANC Youth League this week tried to pass off as its national conference. Naked bums, chair-throwing, election delays, fake coffins … an embarrasment to Kgalema Motlanthe and the ANC, and to us all. Grow up, already.
April 3 to 9
1. Mugabe: I’ll quit, if I don’t face prosecution
Robert Mugabe’s aides have told Zimbabwe’s opposition leaders that he is prepared to give up power in return for guarantees, including immunity from prosecution for past crimes.
2. Mugabe lost for words after polls reverse
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s deafening silence after weekend elections has raised increasing speculation about the fate of a strongman who has never previously found himself lost for words.
3. Zanu-PF: ‘We cannot just hand it to Morgan’
President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu-PF party were to announce victory on Monday in the country’s parliamentary and presidential elections, according to unofficial results leaked from the Zanu-PF and Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) command centres.
4. Mugabe’s dilemma
The political and economic future of Zimbabwe is resting on a razor’s edge as hard-line military commanders and a more moderate faction of Zanu-PF leaders vie to win over a defeated Robert Mugabe.
5. Zanu-PF: Mugabe is ‘alive and kicking’
Robert Mugabe’s ruling party is ready for a presidential election run-off between the veteran Zimbabwean leader and his arch-rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, a government spokesperson said on Thursday.
6. Mugabe gathers top lieutenants
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and top aides thrashed out his survival prospects on Friday as the opposition upped pressure for presidential poll results to be declared after its parliamentary victory.
7. Zim awaits presidential vote results
Zimbabweans waited anxiously on Thursday for an end to a deafening official silence over the outcome of their presidential election, after the opposition took control of Parliament.
8. Understanding why Bob is still so popular
Zimbabwe’s opposition may be celebrating a historic win over President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF, but many people inside and outside the country are wondering how the election could have been this close.
9. Opposition parties blast Mbeki over Zim remarks
Opposition parties on Monday criticised President Thabo Mbeki’s assessment of Zimbabwe’s elections.
10. Zuma speaks out against Zim election delay
African National Congress leader Jacob Zuma on Tuesday criticised the delay in declaring the results of Zimbabwe’s presidential election.