GNU: Threats, hate speech, anxiety reach boiling point on social media

Adri Senekal de Wet, Editor in Chief of Independent Media.

Adri Senekal de Wet, Editor in Chief of Independent Media.

Published Jun 26, 2024


As South Africa waits with bated breath for the announcement of the new cabinet, public frustration and anxiety are reaching a boiling point. The delays and heightened uncertainty come at a time when the nation is already grappling with significant political and social tensions, making the atmosphere akin to a dry powder keg waiting to explode.

The anticipation for the Cabinet announcement has intensified public restlessness, with the nation seeking clarity and stability following a contentious election period. Many South Africans are expressing their impatience and concern over the delays, fearing that the prolonged uncertainty could exacerbate existing tensions.

The situation has been fuelled by online threats, especially on X, against political party leaders and supporters, journalists and editors who have been exposing racism within political parties such as the Democratic Alliance (DA) who are currently a part of the Government of National Unity (GNU).

An article recently published on the online news portal, IOL, highlights incidents such as newly elected parliamentarian, now suspended, Renaldo Gouws’s racist and provocative video, with reporters also being threatened for exposing racism and holding political parties to account.

Independent Media and IOL chairman, Dr Iqbal Survé, himself a victim of ongoing hate speech and threats on social media, has come out strongly in defence of the group’s reporters, saying that there is an orchestrated and very deliberate attempt to undermine the journalistic and editorial integrity of the group’s print and online platforms.

“This is nothing new. We have had a war waged against us for a long time now as we gradually expose the shenanigans and underhandedness of some people very high up in government and business. The more we continue, the more intense the threats become. They have tried to pull out all the stops to get at us, including trying to bring our businesses to their knees. We will not stop. We owe it to our readers and the millions of citizens who have lost complete faith in the leadership of South Africa,” said Dr Survé.

The social media vigilantism against truth-tellers is untenable. The situation also underscores the fragile state of South Africa's democracy and the pressing need for leadership that can address the country's deep-seated issues of racism, inequality, and political division.

In the meantime, the nation remains on edge, with each passing day of delay adding to the growing sense of unease. South Africans call for transparency, accountability, and swift action to prevent the country from further turmoil. A key element to ensuring the country can remain true to its stated aims of unity is the media, which must continue to hold the line of truth – no matter the threats.

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