/ 27 February 2015

Letters to the editor: February 27 to March 5 2015

Altered vision: The media's freedom is guaranteed
Altered vision: The media's freedom is guaranteed

SA’s unpatriotic media

The recent media coverage of the State of the Nation address proves to us that when the chattering classes scrutinise their navels they lose touch with reality. The one-sided attitudes of the media, academics and rent-a-quote commentators were sad to see – they were actually more worrying than the lamentable actions of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) during the address.

We all respect and admire the role the media plays: to hold power to account. One of the greatest successes of our democracy has been the entrenchment of media freedom. But, of late, readers and viewers have been subjected to some lethargic, ignorant and sometimes libellous reporting, sometimes characterised by bias and prejudice.

The people of this country are feeling short-changed and taken for granted. If the objective of reporting is to bring about change, then the antistate attitude that is blind to the faults of other political parties is a very shallow strategy to pursue. No wonder these papers have no readers and these radio stations have full-time call-ins.

The media, academics and analysts are so ahistorical that, for them to demonise the current leadership, they have resorted to canonising former leaders of the ANC. This troika has been silent on the antidemocratic characteristics of the EFF. They are against majority rule.

Everyone in the country knew President Jacob Zuma was answering questions in August 2014 when he was interrupted by the EFF. But, to the surprise of the 62% who voted for the ANC, the media, academics and commentators rallied around the party that got 6%.

The media sometimes come across as very detached from the history, dynamics and realities of our society. On occasion, it suffers from hysterical bouts of sensationalism and indulges in disinformation campaigns meant to mobilise the population against the state.

The challenge for media houses is to look after the interests of the broader public and to ensure that their stories are relevant to their audiences. They are not relevant to the 11-million adults who voted for the ANC. Copying Western media antics is not helping anyone, least of all the media. It is promoting the Congress of the People, the EFF and the so-called United Front.

The ground is now fertile for media houses to report accurately and political commentators to analyse properly in order to move South Africa forward. South Africans must not be fooled by people campaigning to delegitimise our government, voted into power by the majority. The working class in totality must stand up to defend our government, the liberation movement and the president of the country.

The media has no sense of patriotism. It has abandoned its mandate to spearhead a developmental consciousness, and it is time it re-evaluated the aims of journalism. The coverage, especially of Zuma, has been, at times, humiliating and dehumanising and has trashed his dignity.

No one denies the media its right to probe and investigate, but the reporting has to be factual, balanced and constructive. – Amos Vusi Monyela, Nehawu Gauteng chairperson, writing in his personal capacity

Nkandla – the buck that won’t stop

President Jacob Zuma and a handful of his psychopathic apologists and praise singers get very agitated when concerned citizens of this country raise pertinent questions about the taxpayers’ money squandered on his private residence at Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal.

In his obvious anger and frustration, the president has singled out people he describes as “clever blacks” as the only people who are concerned about the wastage and alleged corruption around what has become known as Nkandlagate. According to him, these detractors spend all their time complaining about “Nkandla, Nkandla, Nkandla!” and nothing else.

Labelling people and calling them “clever blacks” because they want him to account to Parliament on “Nkandla” goes to the heart of the president’s problem. His behaviour in this regard leaves one without any doubt that the president treats the more than 50-million citizens of this country as idiots on this vexing issue.

And I believe that for as long as he fails to be accountable and his attitude remains the same, “Nkandla” will not go away.

Recently, during one of his very rare presidential moments in the National Assembly, Zuma told a joint sitting of the House that he was pleased that there were “elders” in Parliament because they brought wisdom and calm to the proceedings.

The president is one of those “elders”, in case he has not noticed, but he seems only to bring aggravation and chaos into the House, almost exclusively because of the scandal around Nkandla.

During the run-up to his State of the Nation address, and after the event in his response to the input from the various political parties, many worthy South Africans suggested how he should handle the Nkandla issue.

Typically, he ignored all of the wise counsel. As such, the boil that is Nkandla has yet to be lanced, further preventing the country from moving forward.

The president knows what needs to be done. The country knows what needs to be done. We hope that he will be true to his word and respond to this matter during question time on his budget vote in March.

The president needs to take responsibility and show true leadership. He cannot continue in his see-nothing, hear-nothing, do-nothing posture on this crucial matter and expect to be taken seriously.

Scapegoating government functionaries will not work. As I have said in Parliament before: “The buck stops with you, Mr President.”

No one in this country, president or otherwise, can receive a gift of more than R200-million for renovations and developments on his private home – for sweet nothing – and play cat-and-mouse with the people when he has to give account.

In a country with millions of people with no adequate shelter, and more than eight million unemployed, this cannot be right.

The president has to pay up or Nkandla will remain an albatross around his presidency’s neck. He must stop treating us, the people of South Africa, like imbeciles. – Sejamothopo Motau, DA MP, writing in his personal capacity