Muzzling Malema fails

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malema at driefontien2 INLSA Julius Malema leaves Gold Fields' Driefontein mine in Carletonville after addressing striking miners. Photo: Bongiwe Mchunu

Johannesburg - A day after the SABC muzzled disgraced ANC Youth leader Julius Malema, he found a far bigger stage for his views: international news channel CNN.

Malema was due to be interviewed live by Metro FM’s Sakina Kamwendo on Tuesday night, but on Monday he received an SMS from the presenter, reportedly saying her bosses had instructed her not to air the interview.

And, where the SABC would not give him a platform, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour did.

Malema told Amanpour he had “taken up the leadership” of the struggle for economic freedom and reiterated his call for nationwide strikes – this time including members of the defence force.

“These strikes that happen in the different mines need to be co-ordinated, we need a national programme to roll them out,” he said.

Malema added that while he discouraged violence against miners thinking of returning to work, they should stay loyal to the strike – and called on all sectors of the economy to rise up as well.

“Those who do want to go to work stand to benefit from this action [striking]. They should not sell out,” he said.

“We want all workers, including the unemployed, to come together and demand what rightfully belongs to them… We have come to the point where we must say enough is enough.”

Gold Fields chairwoman Mamphela Ramphele, who was also on the show, said the lack of leadership allowed for other voices to rise up and fill the gap.

“What happened over the last few weeks has shown just how much we have failed, all of us, including Mr Malema,” she said.

Close ally and Friends of the Youth League spokesman Floyd Shivambu said Malema’s CNN appearance had nothing to do with the cancelled SABC interview, but claimed the incident was “among the many instances where the SABC management, senior officials in the Presidency and the National Intelligence Agency have interfered with SABC editorial processes with the sole aim of making sure that president Julius Malema does not get coverage on matters of national and international importance”.

But SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said there were many reasons why an interview might be cancelled and disputed that the broadcaster was taking sides: “We are not, and we will never do that.”

Kamwendo herself confirmed she was instructed to cancel the interview by her management, “though whether that instruction came from further up, I don’t know”.

She said the interview would have been about the news of the day, from Marikana to Mangaung.

“Julius Malema is very topical at the moment,” she said.

Malema has previously been interviewed on Metro FM, and even hosted an afternoon drive show in March last year, talking about everything but politics.

Shivambu said the “narrow-minded factionalism of protecting Jacob Zuma” would be to the detriment of the SABC.

“Conferences of the ANC come and go, but the broadcaster will have been turned into a ZBC [Zuma Broadcasting Corporation], who’ll soon be irrelevant in the lives of the people of South Africa,” he said.

He tied the state broadcaster’s recent “non-coverage” of Malema to statements made by SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande earlier this year.

At the SACP’s conference in July, Nzimande said “we must be ashamed of the public broadcaster” because “every day there are headlines of people expelled from our movement”.

“You are playing a factional role. Auckland Park is a shame; they run headlines on renegades every morning. Soon we will have to tell them that enough is enough,” he added.

Kganyago said it was interesting that the SABC was taking fire from both sides.

“Both sides are alleging that we are not covering them, which means that we are doing something right.”

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