OPINION: Anton Harber – the master of the art of deflection and protector of the golden cufflinks

Professor Anton Harber. File Photo: Jennifer Bruce

Professor Anton Harber. File Photo: Jennifer Bruce

Published Oct 17, 2022


Mind the company you keep

This morning I woke to yet another undeserved and unnecessary verbal attack on my name and reputation and that of Independent Media by WITS university adjunct Professor Anton Harber, published on that platform of self-righteousness that is the Daily Maverick.

Harber has made it his life mission, it would seem, to attack Independent Media and myself, given the frequency at which he launches his salvos under the guise of “opinion”, and occasionally, as a thought leader.

In my opinion, Harber does not know fact from fiction. Neither does the Daily Maverick who appear to allow their platform as a broadcast channel for unsubstantiated hogwash.

Operation Hlanza

Harber’s diatribe on the News24 article about an Independent Media ANC election preparation document is a case in point. Slamming a media owner for supporting their journalists is a bit like declaring power outages for the entire country and urging the citizens to save where they can, while ministers keep their lights on and carry on as usual.

So, what are the facts?

After reading the News24 article, I contacted the Editor-in-Chief. Yes, there had been a discussion amongst some editors and journalists, to prepare for the ANC elective conference. This is the norm for all media houses for such a seminal event.

Would Harber and News24 not want Independent Media to prepare for the ANC conference? (Whilst they themselves not only prepare for this conference but also plan to support Cyril Ramaphosa’s re-election at this conference.)

In his opinion piece, Harber says media houses should declare their support for a candidate. He is not wrong. However, Independent Media has taken no actual position on any of the candidates.

Harber & his media associates and associations

Harber is not an objective or an independent media practitioner. He is the last person who should throw stones. Perhaps he does so to deflect from the interwoven tapestry of media ownership and influence that are Independent Media’s competitors in the South African media landscape… who knows.

Firstly, his post at Wits University is described as the Caxton Professor of Journalism. Everybody knows that Caxton is one of Independent Media’s direct competitors. More importantly, Caxton was founded by the apartheid government.

Today, Caxton is owned through a company partly controlled by Johann Rupert’s investment arm and partly by Terry Moolman.

Harber has therefore received funding from an entity whose hands are soiled in the blood of South Africans annihilated during apartheid whose demise was contributed to by the likes of Caxton and Naspers.

News24 is, and remains, controlled by the same people that controlled Naspers then.

Naspers was the propaganda partner for PW Botha.

The chair and CEO of Naspers, and the editor of Die Burger newspaper were part of cabinet meetings of the PW Botha government.

Koos Bekker’s family (Bekker is Chairman of Naspers), were involved at a very high level with the state security operators responsible for the assassination and deaths of thousands of political activists.

Follow the golden thread… and the money

Ramaphosa’s CEO, Phuti Mahanyele, the former CEO of Shanduka, is now the South African CEO of Naspers, which punctuates the Faustian pact between Koos Bekker, Ramaphosa, Adriaan Basson (editor-in-chief of News24) and Anton Harber. In my opinion, Harber has become a praise singer for Ramaphosa.

In case Harber wishes to argue the point, let’s dig a bit further.

Harber was recently appointed as the Editor-in-Chief-of ENCA, the television channel that sees no wrong with Ramaphosa’s presidency.

What of the CR17 bank statements, the PPE corruptions, PhalaPhala saga, Eskom’s litany of continued failures and the incompetence at just about every level of the Ramaphosa administration that has deepened the misery for all South Africans?

So, who is the owner of ENCA?

Johnny Copelyn, one of President Ramaphosa’s funders for the election campaign in 2017, is the owner of ENCA. Copelyn chose Harber as the broadcaster’s new editor-in-chief.

Harber and Copelyn have a lot invested in Ramaphosa. Copelyn is the beneficiary of oil and gas fields, which were previously part of the South African government, worth tens of billions of Rands.

This has recently spurred protests from the green movement for seismic activity that is affecting the animals in the oceans.

Copelyn funded CR17 with millions and continues to support Ramaphosa uncritically. Is this not the definition of the absence of objective journalism?

I find it somewhat concerning that a Professor of Journalism at a top-rated university in South Africa, with known links to these people, can be permitted to teach tomorrow’s independent, objective critical thinkers and news reporters.

For example, Harber recently hosted a so-called ‘investigative journalism workshop’ at Wits University with amaBhungane, which was highly defamatory of myself and Independent Media. When the university was apprised of this, it disassociated itself from the workshop.


How can this WITS Professor claim to be objective and unbiased – the tenets of good journalism – when on his social media platforms he is publicly calling for advertisers to boycott Independent Media?

Surely Anton, you realise that there is no such thing as a private public platform? What you say on your platform is a reflection on the reputation of the companies you represent and the company you keep.

Yet, this is the company Anton Harber keeps and to use yet another tried but tested adage, take the plank out your eye Anton before you worry about the speck in mine.

Inoculation against the truth

What could be the driving force of the current campaign to discredit and silence Independent Media and myself?

In simple terms it is called an inoculation strategy.

There is always a yin yang in everything in this universe. Whereas Independent Media’s strategy will cover the election conference from the point of view of the clean-up that needs to happen in the ANC for there to be a concerted effort at cleaning up South Africa – what matters here – the opposition, like Harber and his cronies, will inoculate the public from believing in the truth and take a different perspective.

Much like any vaccine that is designed to prevent one from getting the disease or being badly affected by it, News24 has launched a pre-emptive strike against Independent Media prior to the ANC elective conference, beginning their campaign of discrediting Independent Media.

Their brilliant idea? Frame Independent Media’s ANC elective conference strategy as being anti-Ramaphosa, so that whatever Independent Media says going forward, should be disbelieved.

Inoculation strategy is straight out of the CIA’s handbook – now there’s a surprise.

Not really.

But I have news too. You will not silence me, Anton Harber, Naspers, Daily Maverick, amaBhungane Et el, and I don’t believe you will be able to silence Independent Media either, because its editors and journalists are resolute in seeking the truth - objectivity and responsibly - placing the facts in front of the country for the public to make up their own mind.

That is what a free press and media freedom are all about.

As we approach Black Wednesday - Media Freedom Day in South Africa - on Wednesday 19 October, Independent Media is the sole defender of media freedom in this neo-apartheid era.

Independent Media stands for the truth and tell it like it is. Media freedom will always triumph.

No matter what.

Aluta continua.