Monday, March 26, 2012

Malema Talks Press Freedom, Public Protector and Apologises Again

Expelled ANC Youth League President, Julius Malema says he supports a free media but wants a regulatory body that has teeth and bites.

Malema was speaking at the National Press Club in Johannesburg as South Africa News Maker of the Year. He says the ANC Youth League is not anti-media adding that they would fight for the protection and independence of the media without fear or favour but he feels that the self-regulation hasn’t worked.

“It has been six months since I lodged complaints with the Press Ombudsman but nothing has happened. The last letter I received from the Ombudsman was that he is going to make a ruling without the newspapers concerned because they are not responding. Even you newspapers don’t have respect for the same institution you’re fighting to protect and therefore we need an institution that [has] teeth and will bite,” says Malema.

He says the Youth League acknowledges that the independence of the media should be protected but it should not be abused. Malema added that he does not have a problem with what journalists write about him because he chose to live a public life.

He also took a swipe at the media about being sensitive when they are criticised. “When you criticise me, don’t be sensitive when we criticise you. Don’t say that those who criticise you won’t get positive coverage in your papers. That criticism aims to build a society that engages in quality debate, quality reporting. That is what we aim to achieve when we criticise newspapers,” said Malema.   

He then apologised to those he offended whilst he carried out his revolutionary mandate. He said he knows that there were heated moments between them and journalists but everything that was said was nothing personal. “We were all doing our jobs. I want to say sorry to all South Africans that I have offended, I did not do so intentionally. I have apologised to the BBC journalist and I want to apologise here again,” said Malema.

He then jumped to the issue of land expropriation without compensation saying he would never change his stance regarding that.  He said the land was robbed and stolen from the original owners. “A black genocide was committed against those who owned the land. I will never agree with the rewarding of those who stole our land. Expropriation of land without compensation is a policy that the ANC should adopt,” said Malema.

He said the league was not anti-white and people should not buy into the stories that they want to drive whites to the sea. He said its their country and it also belongs to them, but land redistribution still needs to be discussed. “Our worry is that we keep saying it belongs to us but we don’t own the land. If you have 1000 hectares of land, we are simply asking that you keep 200 hectors and give us the 800 hectares. When we say we must share, we are actually protecting you,” said Malema.

Malema said some have committed black genocide, but the league will stand up for the white minority so that they can also enjoy the country as they are also Africans.

He also praised Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, for her work and lack of fear to investigate those in the wrong. Malema said Madonsela is the “fearless lady of our democracy, our mother” similar to Charlotte Maxeke and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. “This is the type of leadership we need in this country, a leadership that will not be informed by factions and those in power. This is the type of leadership we should celebrate. She should continue to do her job and we should give her courage for the important role she continues to play,” said Malema.

He added that it doesn't matter if she investigates some of them, but in the secret meetings when her integrity is attacked they are the first ones to defend her because she must not only be good when she is favouring them and become bad when she investigates them.

He said he would be lodging a complaint with her office very soon. “Public Protector, very soon I will be bringing a complaint to your office. The abuse of the state power, it looks like we are back to those years before Polokwane where those in power abused state institutions to further factional politics,” said Malema.

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