Malema bans certain journalists from EFF press conferences

Staff Writer | Sep 14, 2019
‘Commander-in-Chief’ of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Julius Malema, says the party will choose which journalists can cover party events.

Malema has said he will not allow representatives from amaBhungane, the Daily Maverick, or the Daily Maverick’s investigative unit, Scorpio, to attend EFF party events.

He made the announcement while speaking at a memorial for the former president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, who died earlier this month.

He said these organisations were the ‘enemy’. Malema’s refusal to allow them to cover EFF events follows recently published claims that he and other senior EFF leaders (primarily deputy leader, Floyd Shivambu) had benefited from the looting of VBS Bank. Scorpio said Malema had personally benefited from at least R5 million that had been looted from VBS.

Malema claimed that amaBhungane and the Daily Maverick were front organisations being used by minister of public enterprises Pravin Gordhan to attack the EFF.

The media has fawned over Malema for some time and much of his and his party’s success can be attributed to the sweetheart coverage many journalists and media organisations (including the Daily Maverick) have given the EFF in the past. Despite clear evidence that he was corrupt, racist, misogynistic, and an enemy of press freedom, many journalists gave Malema and the EFF positive coverage, often laughing off his verbal attacks on white South Africans, and, later, Indian South Africans.

It remains to be seen how effective this ‘banning’ will be or whether other media organisations will boycott EFF events in solidarity with amaBhungane and the Daily Maverick.

Responding to Malema’s threat, amaBhungane said in a statement that it was ‘committed to doing stories that are accurate and fair, expose wrongdoing and empower people to hold power to account’. It said: ‘We regret Malema’s remarks, which seem intended to inoculate his followers against the exposure he fears.’

Malema’s statements ‘show reckless disregard for the potential to incite violence’ and would 'fan’ growing ‘online – and, we fear, offline – hate campaigns experienced by journalists’.

This would ‘fuel perceptions of media as factional tools, widening existing divisions and creating new ones’, and result in conditions in which South Africans would ‘all be talking past each other’. ‘Democratic discourse will give way to intimidation and fear, the slippery slope to the war Malema proclaims.’

 

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