By Hloni Mashigo
As a political journalist, I’m often asked if the 40 white journalists who were paid by the apartheid government to destroy Winnie Mandela are still operational. My immediate answer is Yes! and even worse, they’re not only 40 and not all white.
The Stratcom project to discredit black leaders who stand against white dominance has been extended to Dudu Myeni and Brian Molefe. I know because on two occasions I applied for a job at a white owned newspaper, having worked for The New Age newspaper, and they offered me an interview. In the interview, the editor asked me if I thought Dudu Myeni’s appointment as chairperson of South African Airways was right since she was also the chairperson of the Jacob Zuma Foundation. Since I didn’t understand what the question had to do with content of the interview, I responded: “If she qualifies for the position why not?”
I didn’t know at the time that in order to work for The Daily Maverick I had to take a particular political stance against then President Jacob Zuma and by implication, Dudu Myeni.
Yesterday I read an article from the same media house, discrediting Dudu Myeni and her tenure at SAA, even going as far as to accuse her of corruption. What newspaper readers don’t know is that we journalists share notes and contacts on WhatsApp groups. We write what we write because it suits our editorial policy and pleases our advertisers, it doesn’t ever pass the test of fact and integrity. We don’t necessarily believe the news we publish, but what the editor wants, the editor gets!
Today, Thursday June 28th, in one of my reporters WhatsApp groups, a journalist employed by the Mail and Guardian asked if anyone had pictures of Dudu Myeni’s house in Richards Bay. So this is how it works: if a reporter of a publication that hits the shelves on Friday morning asks for pictures of a prominent persons home on Thursday morning you can believe a story concerning that individual is in the press.
As a good journalist I then called Dudu Myeni to find out if she had news she wanted to break, promising to give her side of the story prominence. She said she was busy and couldn’t talk but said she had no story to share. I got the sense that she was aware a story about her was being “manufactured”.
I went to the group chat and asked the reporter if we could share the angles of the story (which is common when we’re thin on news) and he replied “I’m trying for a front page chief, Khadija’s on my case”.
That means he was going to write anything, without evidence or a reply from Myeni, simply to make the cover story.
That is the pitiful story of a black journo in a white media agency.
I can’t begin to explain how many careers, futures, marriages, have been destroyed from my keyboard. But what were the options for a young black writer in this racist white dominated industry?
Sunday Independent editor, Steve Motale, apologised to President Jacob Zuma for being used by his masters against him.
One day some of us will have to apologise to Dudu Myeni.
I can already think what tomorrow’s Mail and Guardian edition will entail. 80% of it will be speculation and allegation and another black leader will die the Stratcom kind of death.
Hloni Mashigo holds an honours degree in Political Science and Communication from the University of Free State and writes for AfroVoice, previously known as The New Age.