Durban - The decision by the EFF to ban certain media houses from its events may have been influenced by old grudges and the raging battle to control the public opinion terrain, political analysts say.
These views come after the EFF barred Daily Maverick, Scorpio and Amabhungane from covering its elective conference. The party's decision prompted eNCA to pull out from covering the conference in solidarity with the barred media houses.
The ban on the three is not new. In September, EFF leader Julius Malema accused several journalists of being part of an ANC faction that was out to destroy the EFF.
Political analyst Xolani Dube said Malema’s gripe with the Daily Maverick could be traced back to a few years back when he was their darling.
He said at that time, all the four media houses (including eNCA), were on good terms with Malema as they had a common target in the form of former president Jacob Zuma.
He said Malema was a frequent guest of eNCA and in June 2016, the EFF leader was a guest at the Daily Maverick’s “The Gathering”. He was interviewed by now suspended Sunday Times journalist, Ranjeni Munusamy who would later have a fallout with him.
“This is just an issue of friendship that went sour because they were once in the same bed and the enemy that bound them is no longer there... remember that Malema was once the darling of the eNCA, the darling of the Daily Maverick… He was gathering their annual discussion (the Gathering) and the person he was sharing stage with was Ranjeni.
“So these were friends who were on a mission and the mission has been accomplished and there is no more reason to preserve this friendship. Hence now there is this sense of betrayal. I think this is what Malema is feeling, he thinks that after 'I have worked so hard for these guys, this is how they are betraying me',” Dube said.
Dube said the media should rise above factional politics and give balanced news so that they don’t get themselves caught in political crossfire.
Another political analyst, Ralph Mathekga, said the EFF’s decision, which has since been labelled as a threat to media freedom, was informed by the desire to win the battle of public opinion.
“What we are seeing is symptomatic of our politics, it’s not the EFF. You can personalise it, it is not the EFF, it is our politics of suspicion where the highest contest is public opinion. Public opinion matters a lot and the biggest political battles in our country are fought in the arena of public opinion. The public opinion is the theatre for the battle of interest groups in society… if we continue with the blame game without defending the principle we will end up in rall trouble,” Mathekga said.
It is not the first time the EFF has banned a media house from its gathering. In 2016, the party banned the now defunct New Age newspaper and ANN7 news channel. Only a few, like veteran journalist, Mathatha Tsedu, spoke out, while others kept quiet.
ANN7 journalists were also victim of public humiliation by public enterprises minister, Pravin Gordhan, who in March 2017, singled out the news channel for a public rebuke after it gave platform to political analysts who were critical of him. The channel also exposed alleged corruption which happened under Gordhan's watch at the national treasury and Sars.