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IT WAS with a sense of déjà vu and echoes of duplicity to hear President Jacob Zuma and SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande questioning why the SABC was dedicating airtime to Julius Malema.
Their illogical argument is that Malema is expelled from the ANC and therefore should not be seen or heard.
Here is the fantastic irony and wierdest form of duplicity.
In December 2005, Zuma – who was fired as deputy president and was facing a rape charge – wrote a letter to the SABC, demanding to know why his interview with the network was cancelled.
It was within his rights to demand answers.
He was right to question the motive of the public broadcaster in taking a factional, partisan decision.
He is now in power and he is doing unto Malema what Thabo Mbeki did unto him.
He is a hypocrite.
Wait a minute, the hypocrisy is getting better.
The very same Nzimande issued a statement on December 5, 2007 complaining about – guess what – Mbeki’s long interview on SABC radio.
“The SACP is outraged and regards as extremely scandalous of the public broadcaster, the SABC, to give President Mbeki a two-hour live interview, linked to about 15 of the SABC’s radio stations, tonight.
“This is nothing but a blatant abuse of the resources of the public broadcaster to, essentially, support a faction in the ANC in the run up to the Polokwane conference.
“We have consistently pointed out over the last few years that the SABC must operate as a true public broadcaster, and not be drawn into internal political struggles in the ANC or any of its Alliance partners”.
But he now wants the same broadcaster to play the factional game and ban Malema when it suits his political ego and interests.
Nzimande and Zuma are actually questioning the public broadcaster’s editorial judgement or its motive in deciding its news content.
They expect the public broadcaster to prepare its news diary based on who is in the party’s good books.
Editorial independence to them means SABC staff should call Luthuli House (and dial a factional extension) and ask who should be on prime time news.
Editorial independence should mean the decisions regarding the diary and news content are taken by members of the editorial staff – whether those decisions are right or wrong. The SABC and other media outlets – including this newspaper – might be giving Malema too much space and airtime – an overkill.
But it is not up to Zuma and Nzimande to say.
It is up to the audience of these news organisations, who should vote with their remotes and pockets.
Ironically, Nzimande is one of the most covered politicians in the country, despite his tiny party’s popularity (even though they claim 150 000 members) never been tested through the ballot. However, given his popularity and the party’s significant influence, it is given plenty of airtime and news space.
On the other hand, Zuma is one of the most boring presidents in the world. His international trips and public speeches are an obfuscated and incoherent hodge-podge, and make no immediate sense to the audience.
But he is on TV and newspapers almost on a daily basis.
Interestingly Malema and Nzimande (especially their rhetorical gobbledygook) are more interesting and newsworthy than Zuma’s bland speeches.