ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte speaking to members of the media during a picket outside the eNCA studios in Hyde Park. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)
ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte speaking to members of the media during a picket outside the eNCA studios in Hyde Park. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

ANC should use its political power to fight racism and stop acting like a helpless NGO

By Editorial Time of article published Mar 3, 2021

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The ANC, the governing party, should use its legal and political power to fight racism rather than see the scourge as an opportunity to grandstand, thus pretending to be a helpless non-governmental organisation or some pressure group.

Yesterday, party members, led by deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte and national executive committee member Nomvula Mokonyane, protested outside the offices of eNCA in Johannesburg against a racist incident involving the 24-hour news channel’s political journalist Lindsay Dentlinger.

This followed a public outcry over the journalist’s insistence that only black people wear face masks before being interviewed outside Parliament last week.

Surprisingly, eNCA managing director Norman Munzhelele and managing editor John Bailey initially defended her before Dentlinger herself apologised for the “disrespect”.

In a statement read by Duarte, the ANC gave the channel seven days to respond to a list of demands. This included a public apology, “rehabilitating racists'” and training the culprits about human rights and values. She added that eNCA’s attitude was a sign it regarded the coronavirus as a black thing.

The stance and posture taken by Duarte and her fellow comrades may be noble. But it was championed by wrong people. For starters, the ANC is the governing party that wields political power to confront and eliminate racism if it so wishes.

With its parliamentary majority, It can pass laws to criminalise racism, use its government to unleash law enforcement agencies on the culprits, or simply instruct its deployees, especially Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, to suspend or invoke the operating licences of broadcasters who are found guilty of racism.

That’s what any governing party worth its salt or which respects its voters, the majority of whom are victims of racism, does if it means what it says.

Put differently, the ANC-led government can annihilate structural racism if it has political will.

But, alas, the party would rather pull some PR stunts outside eNCA offices and behave as if it’s some helpless and disempowered lobby group.

Honestly, the sight of Duarte and her fellow comrades demanding transformation from a privately owned news company was comical and a diversion.

It’s stuff that must be left to NGOs like the Right2Know. The ANC must just have the courage of its conviction to do the right thing.

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