EFF leaders accompany leader Julius Malema to a meeting with Hawks investigators. Sanef on Sunday said it will formally approach the leadership of the EFF in another attempt to resolve the party's "ban" on certain media attending their events. File picture:Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA).

JOHANNESBURG - The South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) will formally approach the leadership of the Economic Freedom Fighters in another attempt to resolve the EFF's "ban" on certain media attending their events, Sanef said on Sunday.

Sanef held its September council meeting in Pretoria on Saturday and discussed several issues, including the EFF’s “banning” of amaBhungane, Scorpio, and Daily Maverick from attending their party events, including press conferences, Sanef said in a statement.

Despite being told by EFF leader Julius Malema on social media to “go to hell” at the weekend while the council meeting was taking place, the council still confirmed and reiterated the importance of trying to continue to engage with the EFF despite many failed attempts.

"We believe it is critical to keep communication channels open and we will formally request a meeting." Sanef confirmed its solidarity with the "banned" journalists and their commitment to holding the EFF to account.

"Sanef, again, notes that the ban came after Scorpio published several exposés on Malema, party deputy president Floyd Shivambu, Shivambu's brother Brian, as well as a cousin of Malema. Scorpio has alleged that a R16.1 million transfer has been made from VBS [Bank, now defunct] to Brian Shivambu's company Sgameka Projects – effectively a shell company. 

"Scorpio has further alleged that at least R5.3 million of the R16.1 million flowed to Mahuna Investments. Scorpio reported that Mr Malema used Mahuna Investments' business account as his 'personal slush fund'."

Again, Sanef challenged Malema and other implicated EFF leaders to disprove these reports and/or to use the appropriate channels, such as the Ombud’s Office and the Press Council if they feel aggrieved at any aspect of the reporting.

It was unacceptable for the EFF to respond to these allegations by attempting to ban journalists from press conferences. "In the past, we have been opposed to other bans, such as the EFF’s on ANN7 and the New Age."

Political parties should not be picking and choosing who covered their events to ensure they got an easy ride. The duty of journalists was to hold the powerful to account and to act in the public interest.

It should be noted that Sanef and five journalists were seeking relief against the EFF and Malema in the Equality Court following a spate of abuse and harassment by people purporting to be EFF supporters against journalists who had been specifically named by Malema.

"At the heart of our case is the singling out of targeted individual journalists by Malema and the EFF leadership and the creation of an enabling environment for abuse and harassment to be levelled against them," Sanef said.

Sanef and the journalists approached the Equality Court on legal advice, as they believed that the conduct of the EFF and their supporters constituted hate speech and harassment against the named journalists. Judgment was reserved.

"Sanef's council confirmed a roundtable [discussion] on the harassment of journalists scheduled to take place on 28 September 2019 in Johannesburg. All political parties, including the EFF, will be invited and we trust they will attend," Sanef said.

African News Agency (ANA)