Independent Online

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView weather by locationView market indicators

Ferial Haffajee and Daily Maverick's cheap politicking in the face of a global pandemic is immoral

Ferial Haffajee and her cohort claim to care about the state of media, its role to portray the truth and its sustainability, not only in these trying times brought about by Covid-19 but in general. They are hypocrites, says the writer. File picture: African News Agency/ANA

Ferial Haffajee and her cohort claim to care about the state of media, its role to portray the truth and its sustainability, not only in these trying times brought about by Covid-19 but in general. They are hypocrites, says the writer. File picture: African News Agency/ANA

Published Apr 9, 2020

Share

In the midst of the most turbulent time that our country has experienced since the dark days of apartheid, there has been lots to ruminate on. It has therefore taken me considerable time to pen this article. 

This week in particular has been a real eye-opener as far as where we are as a country is concerned. Which is not far enough, truth be told. 

Story continues below Advertisement

An interesting debate has been raging on social media as to whether or not this is the right time (battleground Covid-19) for the oligarchs and conglomerates who benefited from apartheid to consider paying reparations. 

To put that into context, it was as a result of an opinion I recently authored. My opinion reflected the view that if there was ever a good time for reparations to happen, it is now. As always, when I write, I offer those who I mention a right of reply. 

One of the contentious issues I raised in that piece was that one of the “pledges” announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa to assist in combating Covid-19, is not a pledge at all but an administered business loan.

As always, the responses and the views in contribution to the political discourse have been highly informative and intellectual. 

Then, as we were engaged in this important debate, it became apparent that although as the media we are here to provide an essential service to keep the people and the masses informed on Covid-19 and other issues, we are not immune to the economic impact that this will have on the newspaper industry. 

All around the world, there are newspaper publishing companies that are on the brink of collapse as a result of the stringent economic measures that have been put in place to combat Covid-19. 

Story continues below Advertisement

Locally, a case in point is the Mail & Guardian, who reached out to the public and declared that it will not be in a position to pay salaries to staff during this period. I commend the team at Mail & Guardian for their openness.

Independent Media too, as a responsible newspaper publishing group, was transparent about the economic difficulties the company is set to face in the coming months as a result of the lockdown. 

Independent Media’s Chief Operating Officer Takudzwa Hove said there was no better or easier way to deliver such news.

Story continues below Advertisement

“The only fair thing we can do is to alert you to this situation as early as possible so that you can make the necessary personal arrangements.

“We are in a black swan situation and it is difficult to rationalise what is happening and what will occur next … These measures are meant to ensure the long-term sustainability of the group as we are looking at the medium- to long-term picture of the devastation that will be caused by the coronavirus,” said Hove.

However, instead of lauding Independent for its proactive measures and its open and honest communications, like the support the M&G received from colleagues, Independent Media was preyed upon, with its situation twisted and turned into yet another opportunity for a personal jibe at Independent’s chairman, Dr Iqbal Survé. 

Story continues below Advertisement

I am referring here to Ferial Haffajee, whose rabid copy published on the Daily Maverick at the news of the salary cuts conflated several different matters to paint an entirely different picture of the reality at this company … yet again.  

Haffajee and her cohort claim to care about the state of media, its role to portray the truth and its sustainability, not only in these trying times brought about by Covid-19 but in general.  

They are hypocrites.  

It would be far more honest for them to declare their outright hatred for the man who bought an ailing newspaper company and overhauled its extremely bloated payroll of crony columnists by not renewing their contracts. That’s right, the majority of Dr Survé and Independent Media dissenters were not actually employed by Independent Media, but were contracted writers.  

Independent Media having been asset stripped by its Irish owners by the time of purchase, was already facing difficulties. Business sense dictated that the fat cat salaries of columnists turning in minimal copy be put out to pasture, by way of example. Of course, this did not meet with favour. It has since bred a forest of column inches devoted to "getting back" at the man whose objective was to reflect a different discourse in post 1994 democracy, more representative of the country as a whole. 

Haffajee has a track record of fighting with black journalists at the City Press. She has made it perfectly clear that she has no professional respect for anybody associated with Independent Media and its titles. 

In one of her rants a few months ago, she even went so far as to admit that she does not keep up with Independent's newspapers and its titles in any way. How then is a person who is never interested in the other side of the story meant to be trusted with providing a balanced view? The short answer is she cannot be trusted. 

While Independent Media prides itself on transparency, transformation and upholding journalistic ethics and principles, Haffajee, to my mind, belongs to an immoral clique of associate editors and contributors who are conniving, bitter, cold and calculating. 

This cabal was central in driving an anti-black, anti-poor, pro-elitist and anti-transformation campaign that has resulted in the implosion of the South African economy. For decades they were allowed to denigrate black executives, black professionals, black businessmen and black politicians with impunity. 

To add insult to injury, in her piece, Haffajee goes on to ask about Survé’s property at the Cape Town V&A Waterfront. Not once has she ever mentioned white executives such as Markus Jooste, Koos Bekker or Christo Wiese and where they stay. Not once has she suggested these executives contribute their personal monies to their businesses if they need them. She also did not pick up on the question of just how much the Woolworths executives must be paid in order to ensure that the entire Woolworths staff can retain full salaries ... for a couple of months.

Haffajee’s cheap and petty political tricks during the time of a global pandemic is immoral. They have also become synonymous with the Daily Maverick brand and what that publication now stands for. The truth? I DON'T THINK SO.

* Ayanda Mdluli is a senior journalist at Independent Media. 

Related Topics:

Share