|Everything and Nothing|
As a “non-journo” (and this being my attempt to contribute to the cause) in South Africa, posting something like this feels somewhat unnatural but in essence, because I pretty much say what is on my mind *all the time*, I am a subscriber to the adage of “Freedom of Speech”.
What does the “Freedom of Speech” actually mean to me? Well, with reference to the political/social up roar that has been happening recently here in South Africa…specifically the activities of the ANCYL spokesperson Nyiko Floyd Shivambu. In the past, the South African press has been at the forefront of liberating avenues, specifically through the Apartheid as well as other political highlights throughout our country’s history. The above issue has come to light when the right/freedom of certain journalists was threatened as they refused to release a “leaked dossier” which supposedly reveals how one journalist, Dumisani Lubisi, a journalist at the City Press, is linked to “money laundering practices” – now let’s keep in mind that these 19 other journalists have commissioned a formal complaint to the Secretary General of the ANC, against Shivambu.
Men like this believe they are above the law, above the right to “freedom of speech” and the truth is they aren’t. This appeal to the bloggers throughout South Africa is an attempt to rally up enough of a support to show that “we” are not to be f*cked with and will stop at nothing until the truth is revealed and the ones in question are brought to book. As I expressed earlier, as a non-journo based here in South Africa, my grasp of the South African Constitution is shady at best but what I do know is that I don’t like being told what and how to say things…I don’t like, actually, let me rephrase that…I despise it!
Shivambu’s actions are a blatant attack on the basic human rights contained here in South Africa, as well as the rest of the sane world…
“One of the most important rights contained in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.The right which all other rights are hinged upon.”
If you cast your mind away to the absurd for a second, I believe one of the most controversial examples of what happens when the right to the one’s freedom of speech is removed would be Zimbabwe…yes, ol’Bob Mugabe’s hold on his country’s press has plunged his nation into media darkness. A lack of information, protest and political knowledge would deafen and dumb any nation…regardless of their situation…if action is not taken against Shivamba now, this could be the first step towards creating a Helen-Keller orientated South Africa…yah, I know…scary.
“Free flow of information is the only safeguard against tyranny.” (Stuart_Hobbs on Twitter – RT by ExMi)
Last week, shocking revelations concerning the activities of the ANC Youth League spokesperson Nyiko Floyd Shivambu came to the fore. According to a letter published in various news outlets, a complaint was laid by 19 political journalists with the Secretary General of the ANC, against Shivambu. This complaint letter detailed attempts by Shivambu to leak a dossier to certain journalists, purporting to expose the money laundering practices of Dumisani Lubisi, a journalist at the City Press. The letter also detailed the intimidation that followed when these journalists refused to publish these revelations.
We condemn in the strongest possible terms the reprisals against journalists by Shivambu. His actions constitute a blatant attack on media freedom and a grave infringement on Constitutional rights. It is a disturbing step towards dictatorial rule in South Africa. We call on the ANC and the ANC Youth League to distance themselves from the actions of Shivambu. The media have, time and again, been a vital democratic safeguard by exposing the actions of individuals who have abused their positions of power for personal and political gain. The press have played a vital role in the liberation struggle, operating under difficult and often dangerous conditions to document some of the most crucial moments in the struggle against apartheid. It is therefore distressing to note that certain people within the ruling party are willing to maliciously target journalists by invading their privacy and threatening their colleagues in a bid to silence them in their legitimate work.
We also note the breathtaking hubris displayed by Shivambu and the ANC Youth League President Julius Malema in their response to the letter of complaint. Shivambu and Malema clearly have no respect for the media and the rights afforded to the media by the Constitution of South Africa. Such a response serves only to reinforce the position that the motive for leaking the so-called dossier was not a legitimate concern, but a insolent effort to intimidate and bully a journalist who had exposed embarrassing information about the Youth League President.
We urge the ANC as a whole to reaffirm its commitment to media freedom and other Constitutional rights we enjoy as a country.