New age editor-in-chief Moegsien Williams has labeled Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF) leader ‘South Africa’s Very Own Donald Trump’. Williams, who was speaking during an interview on ANN7, maintained that Malema’s speech jogs his memory about America’s Donald Trump.
“All freedom-loving democrats in South Africa should condemn the leader of the EFF for his utterances and threats against the staff of The New Age and TV channel ANN7,” said Williams in a statement.
We will recall that on Thursday, EFF leader Julius Malema had warned that Gupta-owned media such as ANN7 and The New Age would not see the entry door at his party’s event. He said,
“Gupta must leave the country. We are tired about talking about [the] Guptas. We going to take practical action,” Malema told reporters in Johannesburg.
“Gupta media must no longer come to EFF events. We don’t want to see The New Age and ANN7.”
Airing his mind, the editor-in-chief said, “It [Malema’s statements] reminds me a lot of Donald Trump in the United States… who wants to ban Muslims and throw reporters out of press conferences.
“He is our very own Donald Trump and I worry about that kind of language when we have an election coming up.”
Prior to Malema’s order that day, The news Age had promised to carry EFF’s party briefing live on their twitter page. But things turned the other way round, when they were asked to leave the briefing room. Malema accused them of condoning corruption in the country [perhaps because of their relationship with president Zuma and ANC at large].
“Sisters and brothers in Gupta firms we love you and don’t want you to be casualties. We cannot guarantee the safety of those printing New Age and ANN7.”
Throwing more light on the issue, Williams reiterated that his workers lives in the course of duty has always been paramount.”We would not cover the event if there is any danger to the safety of our reporters.”
“For us as a news organisation, the safety of our reporters, cameramen and photographers is paramount and if there is any threat or danger in physical harm, we will not cover the event,” he said.
Lending his candid advice to Malema, Williams urged to desist from comments that incite violence and chaos, if he must make it in the political arena. However, he believes that the leader has freedom to speak at will.
“I suppose our democracy can be fairly tolerant of what people say in the political environment, but you need to be careful and it is up to the voters in South Africa to look at that kind of language.
“They need to ask themselves if that is the kind of democracy that they want to consolidate and grow… they need to make their own decisions about whether [that is the party they want to support], a party that comes with that kind of demagoguery…”
“If he wants to be a future leader in this country, he must abide by the Constitution,” said the media Boss.
Meanwhile, lots of criticism have trailed Malema’s comment. South African National Civic Organization has [through its national spokesperson] called on South Africa’s Independent Electoral Commission to conduct a thorough investigation, to determine if EFF’s “political thuggery posture and bullying tactics” contradict any electoral code.
Also, Forum of Journalists for Transformation leader Piet Rampedi has criticized Malema’s ban on Gupta media. Rampedi made it known in a statement issued that “What was seemingly meant to be a political jibe at the EFF’s declared enemies inadvertently affected innocent journalists, some of whom happen to be members of our vibrant organisation.”
The South Africa National Editors’ Forum said the EFF should not promote fears and uncertainties in journalists when carrying out their duty. The forum however said the EFF has the right to say anything about media owners, but that care should be taken, not to endanger the lives of pressmen.