By BO Staff Wrtier
Earlier this afternoon, Black First Land First sent the following letter to the Democratic Alliance putting it on terms and demanding that it does the right thing – apologize for misrepresenting that Professor Malikane had called for an armed uprising, so as to address the land question, at an event hosted by the movement.
Mr Mmusi Maimane
Federal and Parliamentary Leader of the Democratic Alliance
DA Leaders Office
21 May 2017
Email: [email protected]
Dear Mr Maimane
DA MUST APOLOGISE FOR MISREPRESENTING PROFESSOR MALIKANE
After Professor Chris Malikane, addressed people on Radical Economic Transformation (RET) on 29 April 2017 at the Blacks in Dialogue (BID) event organised by Black First Land First (BLF) the white owned media blatantly misrepresented what he had said at the event.
The comments of Professor Malikane were misrepresented and distorted in an article published on 29 April 2017 in News24.
The relevant paragraph of the article “‘Prepare for the worst’, says Gigaba’s adviser” is the following:
“We need a two-thirds majority to change the Constitution. Otherwise, to achieve what we want to achieve, we need to go that route [take up arms]. Let’s try two-thirds. I don’t like war,” Malikane said.
The phrase in square brackets, namely “[take up arms]” were not said by Prof Malikane. They were included in the quote of Professor Malikane by the author of the above article. The News24 article accordingly conveyed the false message that Malikane said that in the event of not getting radical economic transformation via constitutional reform that the people would have to “take up arms”.
BLF had unequivocally indicated, inter alia, that the comment about taking up of arms cannot justifiably be associated with Prof Malikane and is a creation of the racist white media in service of white monopoly capital through lies. To this end the report of News24 was not truthful and fair in relation to Professor Malikane in that it had misrepresented and distorted the facts as indicated above.
BLF further pointed out that in contextualizing Malikane’s submissions, News24 had left out the fact that Prof Malikane was in fact responding to a question from the audience. Moreover, the Professor had not spoken about war in his initial input on RET at the event. BLF clarified that If the correct context was reported by News24, the distortion and misrepresentation would have been prevented.
BLF asked the Press Ombudsman to consider its complaint and to make the necessary finding – including the imposition of a penalty on News24 “that will serve as a very strong deterrent to it and others engaging in similar acts of misconduct in the future”.
On 30 April 2017, following Malikane’s talk at the BID the day before, the DA called on the Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba, to “now act decisively and fire his economic advisor, Professor Chris Malikane, for suggesting that people “take up arms” to achieve “radical economic transformation” in South Africa”.
In this context the DA pointed out that “… Professor Chris Malikane crossed a “red line” in our constitutional democracy when he pivoted from warning about “civil war” to calling for “civil war” in South Africa.” It further indicated that it is in fact “complete madness” for Malikane to make that suggestion.
Subsequently on 30 April 2017, BLF issued a statement calling on the DA to immediately apologise to Prof Malikane for the lies it is spreading about him. No apology has been tendered in this regard.
On 1 May 2017 BLF lodged an official complaint against News24 with the Press Ombudsman regarding its blatant lies about what Prof Malikane had said on 29 April 2017. It is our view that Professor Malikane is being persecuted for his revolutionary proposals on Radical Economic Transformation (RET) which are counter to the interests that the DA stands for. The conduct of the DA, in joining the white media in its misrepresentation of what Professor Malikane had said at the BID, is suggestive of it together with the white media trying to silence the Professor as it has no superior argument to his proposals on RET.
On 19 May 2017, the Press Ombudsman, made his ruling against News24. Read the Press Ombud’s ruling under the citation “Black First Land First, Njabulo Sithebe vs. News24” at www.presscouncil.org.za.
In his finding the Press Ombud, Johan Retief, said the following:
“The impression that Malikane favoured the taking up of arms to solve the land reform issue misrepresented him, was unfair to him, and unnecessarily associated him with a position which, if taken to implementation, would have consequences too ghastly to contemplate.”
It was further held that the text inserted in square brackets breached sections 1.1, 1.2 and 3.3 of the Code of Ethics and Conduct. To this end the said sections 1.1, 1.2 and 3.3 compelled the media to respectively “report news truthfully, accurately and fairly”; to present news “in context and in a balanced manner, without any intentional or negligent departure from the facts whether by distortion … or misrepresentation …”; and to “exercise care and consideration in matters involving … reputation.”
Having regard to section 8 of the Complaints Procedures – which provides for sanctions in terms of an hierarchy comprising of three tiers, namely “minor breaches” in “Tier 1”, “serious breaches in “Tier 2” and “serious misconduct” in “Tier 3” – the Press Ombud found that the contraventions of the Code of Ethics and Conduct by News24 constituted a “Tier 3 offence” which is suggestive of it belonging to a category of offences that is the most serious.
Accordingly the sanction imposed by the Press Ombud included the following:
“News24 is directed to apologise, unreservedly, to Malikane in particular and to the public in general, for misleadingly and unfairly creating the impression that Malikane favoured the taking up of arms to solve the land reform issue”.
The Press Ombud then made certain strict provisions as to how the text of the apology required of News24 should be published. These provisions are most instructive and must serve as a guide for the apology that BLF seeks from the DA. It must also be mentioned that the Press Ombud has indicated that he has sent out the ruling to City Press, the Citizen and Sowetan and asked them to amend their online offending articles accordingly.
In the light of the ruling of the Press Ombud, BLF calls upon the DA to apologise unconditionally to Professor Chris Malikane and to the public for creating the misleading, unfair and false impression that Malikane was in favour of taking up arms in order to resolve the issue of land reform. The fact that the DA had created the said impression by misrepresenting what Professor Malikane had said at the BID has already been fully canvassed and supported with evidence above.
Furthermore the DA is required to publish the text of its apology “in the same position as that used for the offending article” and to this end it must commence with its apology both in the headline and first sentence; refer to this letter; and request the readers to read the full ruling of the Press Ombud under the citation “Black First Land First, Njabulo Sithebe vs. News24” at www.presscouncil.org.za.
BLF demands that the DA complies with its requests indicated above within five working days, failing which the necessary further action shall be taken against it.
Black First Land First (BLF): President
Black First Land First Email: [email protected]
Facebook: Black First Land First
Cell number: +27 82 678 3200
See ANN7 interview with BLF President Andile Mngxitama on this subject.