The South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) held its September council in Pretoria on Saturday and discussed several issues, including the Economic Freedom Fighters’ EFF’s “banning” of amaBhungane, Scorpio and Daily Maverick from attending their party events, including press conferences.
Despite being told by Julius Malema on Social Media to “go to hell” at the weekend while our Council meeting was taking place, the SANEF 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’s. Scorpio has alleged that an R16.1m transfer has been made from VBS to Brian Shivambu’s company Sgameka Projects – effectively a shell company. Scorpio has further alleged that at least R5.3m of the R16.1m flowed to Mahuna Investments. Scorpio reported that Mr Malema used Mahuna Investments’ business account as his “personal slush fund”.
Again, SANEF wishes to challenge Mr 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.
SANEF wants to place on record that it is 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 covers their events – to ensure they get an easy ride. The duty of journalists is to hold the powerful to account and to act in the public interest.
It should be noted that SANEF and five journalists are 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 and the journalists approached the Equality Court on legal advice as we believe that the conduct of the EFF and their supporters constitute hate speech and harassment against the named journalists. Judgement was reserved.
SANEF’s Council confirmed a roundtable 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.
For more information please contact:
Mahlatse Mahlase – SANEF Chairperson, 083 399 2852
Sam Mkokeli – SANEF Media Freedom Chairperson, 082 084 2051
Kate Skinner – SANEF Executive Director 082 926 6404