Tag Archives: M&G

Thought Leader’s thought police: M&G “poep”-scared of Zuma?

On Wednesday evening I posted a piece on my Thought Leader blog I titled “The poephol shall govern!” (a playful pun on an expression from the Freedom Charter) about Zuma’s inevitable accession to the presidency.

The first paragraph went as follows:
Let’s face it. Short of an Mbeki groupie’s assassination attempt on Zuma (which is unlikely to happen considering the R1 million of taxpayer’s money spent each month protecting the man), come April, the great man will be state president.
I discovered on Thursday that without informing me, the Mail & Guardian Online (who run Thought Leader) had changed the the title to the rather inane “Zuma shall govern …”. In addition to this, the first paragraph had been censored so that it now simply reads:
Let’s face it, come April, the great man will be state president.
Not quite what I meant, really.
So I raised this issue with the dear people at the M&G Online who told me that I had flouted editorial guidelines. I was told:
Insinuating that Mbeki-ites would want to assassinate Zuma, or that the only way he could be prevented from becoming president is by assassinating him, is irresponsible and inciteful.
Furthermore I was informed that:
You also claimed the ANC  “quite happily ride roughshod over the judicial system and the very concept of the rule of law and legal processes”. This is a widespread perception, but hasn’t been proven, thus making such a statement libelous.
So this is what I responded with:
Firstly the statement was tongue-in-cheek — far from inciting anyone it was instead poking fun at the fervent dislike of Zuma that Mbeki supporters have. But tongue-in-cheek notwithstanding, I fail to see how pointing to the inevitability of a Zuma presidency (with an assassination being the only thing stopping that) is irresponsible or inciteful — it merely acknowledges that Zuma’s overwhelming support (both amongst the electorate and within a powerful camp in the ANC) will propel him to the presidency regardless of the legal issues he faces — something that I explore and justify in the rest of the post.
By claiming that only an assasination will prevent him from becoming president I am not at all inciting or encouraging people to kill him. Far from it. I’m simply saying that I believe with such certainty that he will become president — and that the only way forseeable way that this would not occur would be if someone assasinated him (which I further point out is extremely unlikely to occur — for obvious reasons).
I  then dealt with the accusation of libel:
I believe the second piece you mention to have been misinterpreted.
The entire paragraph reads:
But even if he has been a victim of Mbeki’s Machiavellian machinations that does not justify absolution. Advocating such a sinister agenda illustrates how absolutely desperate certain elements of the ANC are to ensure that their man gets to the top. So much personal interest is at stake that they will, it seems, quite happily ride roughshod over the judicial system and the very concept of the rule of law and legal processes, which form key components of our constitutional democracy, to ensure that Zuma moves into the Tuynhuys.
Firstly as you will see above, I reference “certain elements of the ANC” and not the ANC as a whole. (Since I do not name who these elements are — obviously Zuma’s high-ranking supporters — it’s unlikely that the M&G or myself will face libel action from these “elements”).

But furthermore this can’t be libellous because I say “they will, it seems ” — not “they are” — implying that it would appear that the certain elements (i.e. Zuma supporters) “will” (i.e. are prepared to — the use of the future tense means that they haven’t necessarily done so yet) “quite happily ride roughshod over the judicial system etc….” — the belief that they are prepared to do so being based on on my analysis and interpretation of the legal obstructionism (discussed in great detail elsewhere in the post) being used to prevent Zuma going to trial.

To read the paragraph as a whole it is clear that I am stating that by promoting Zuma’s absolution, those within the ANC who adovocate such an agenda are prepared to “quite happily ride roughshod over the judicial system etc….” — and this is a legitimate and not libellous sentiment because it is based on the hypothesis that by wanting to prevent Zuma from standing trial, those “certain elements” are setting a precedent of Zuma being above the law  and thus are riding roughshod over the judicial system which implements the law — simply by being demanding that Zuma be an exception to it and its potential consequences.

It seems that gone are the days when the M&G relished its role as cheeky, feisty fighter for free-speech. Who would have thought that they were this frightened of Jacob Zuma et al?

As I explained to the M&G Online, I take the words I write and the meaning they convey very seriously. While I understand defamatory content is not acceptable on Thought Leader I think it is vital to preserve the spirit of free speech and vibrant, possibly controversial opinion so long as it explained and justified — which I believe my blog post (or at least the one I submitted) attempted to do. To censor a valid contribution runs the risk of inducing self-censorship, which can only damage robust debate in this country.

  • Read the uncensored version of The poephol shall govern! here.
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How the ANC will push out the President

The latest M&G’s lead story outlines how the ANC plans to get rid of Mbeki. Apparently they do not want go through the conventional route of a parliamentary impeachment or vote of no confidence for fears they will be obligated to call an early election which the party feels too unprepared for.

Instead, it has been decided to encourage Mbeki to resign and spare himself the humiliation of being “pushed”. It remains to be seen whether this will work. What is also quite exciting are the rumours abounding that Mbeki is considering creating a new party to rival the ANC. Being forced out by the ANC may well be the last straw for Mbeki, according to Karima Brown, the Business Day‘s sterling political editor who also adds:

Polls have been conducted, research commissioned, meetings held and stories spread. According to one, an election now with such a party in the field would result in a hung Parliament. That may be optimistic but it is evidence of something being hatched. So far, backers have been cautious about when or how to launch, but Malema may be pushing the boat out to sea. Much will depend on how the crisis between Mbeki and the ANC is handled over the next few days. Running an election campaign is expensive but Mbeki’s backers do not lack funds.

The birth of a rival movement will have a radical — and welcome — impact on our political landscape; while messy, it will increase our democracy’s chance of surviving because it will shatter the ANC’s hegemony.

Read the M&G’s cover story here. Click here to read the Business Day article.

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Caviar communism: YCL comes out of business class closet

Recently the Young Communist League national secretary, Buti Manamela, was detained for questioning at Heathrow on his arrival. Sounds like a horrible experience to go through – one which he shares with relish in an interview in last week’s Mail & Guardian.

What I found fascinating, though, was Manemela’s admission that he flew to the UK in business class. Clearly the irony is lost on Manamela. I mean HELLO!! Doesn’t business class symbolise the untrammeled, opulent excess of the evil capitalist system? So much for Comrade Manamela representing an organisation that claims to be fighting for the proletariat, the people – and of course a classless society. Ahem, classless.

Ag shame. If the SA Communist Party had even a shred of credibility, they’ve lost it now – though my hunch is that they’ve been without any since their remarkable reluctance to pay their outstanding debt to the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University for the use of their facilities for their conference last year, an amount in excess of a million rand. It’s no wonder they’re in favour of debt relief!

This little gravy-plane episode, I suppose, is just another reminder that the SACP has long lost its battle with ideological irrelevancy, being clearly unable to put into practice the archaic “principles” they so vehemently preach.

In true Animal Farm style, this is a case of all being equal – but some being more equal than others. Orwell must be giggling in his grave.

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