It is quite extraordinary how the ANC is increasingly resorting to the tactics the National Party used against the media and to hoodwink the public in the bad old days of apartheid, writes Chris Moerdyk.
One can be forgiven for coming to the conclusion that all those former Nat ministers the ANC let into their fold have been doing a pretty mentoring job among their peers on how to wriggle out of tight situations.
Only recently we had Blade Nzimande claiming that the media in South Africa had, at worst become an organised oppostion to the ANC and at best, a factionalist player in its politics.
He was clearly annoyed at media coverage of the recent ANC policy conference and said that even after the conference, the media was playing the “same role of misinformation based on dubious sources that exaggerate a few instances of ill discipline”.
Then, of course, along came basic education minister Angie Motshekga claiming that the whole Limpopo text book delivery debacle was due to sabotage by service provider.
“The department,” she said, “has been monitoring reports of some providers conniving with other forces to ensure that we fail to meet our delivery deadlines.”
Other forces? What other forces? Sounds remarkably like that non-existent entity the Nat’s called ‘The Third Force’ when they had absolutely no other logical explanation. A bit like their “communist behind every bush” ploy when they banged on about the “rooi gevaar” usually just before election time.
And only this week we had another ANC bigwig complaining about being misquoted by the media. He may well be right because with the media having been barred from the policy conference committee meeting at which he was speaking, all reporters could do was rely on the word of ANC members who were attending.
Like the Nat’s, the ANC just hasn’t grasped what is happening.
For starters, it is absolutely ridiculous to blame the mass media for reporting on leaked information. Because that leaked information has to come from somewhere.
Even the best investigative reporters in the world simply cannot get direct access to political party documents.
Which means that when the ANC, government or any other political party for that matter, blames the media for making public information that is supposed to be secret, it is only because their own members are leaking things to the media.
And the more the ANC becomes factionalised, the more leaks will take place from those ANC members and functionaries who don’t like what their colleagues are doing, saying or deciding upon.
The media have a duty to keep the public informed and the more the state or its political parties turn their backs on transparency, the more the media will have to rely on whistleblowers.
Which of course, is precisely why, the ANC wants to enact all manner of restrictive media legislation.
I find it quite remarkable that the ANC, particularly, has such a short memory. How, in the darkest days of apartheid, they and their followers were the victims of the Nat’s lack of transparency and penchant for blaming everything on the media.
Like many other things the ANC is tending to do these days, blaming “other forces” and the media when things go wrong, are simply signs of political desperation. We have in the past few years seen those same signs in Libya, Egypt, Burma and currently, Syria.
A desperation at trying to give the impression when everything within the governing party is hunky dory and that there are no divisions, no intrigue, no backstabbing and no discontent.
The next five months are going to be extremely testing for our mass media as the country heads for the watershed ANC elective conference at the end of the year.
Fortunately, four decades of apartheid has taught South Africa’s mass media how to be resilient.
And if comrade Blade believes that the media has become “an organised opposition” to the ANC, then he and his colleagues have only themselves to blame.