Then yesterday the ANC Youth League decided that a May editorial in the Mail & Guardian which “urged readers to oppose the ANC” simply was not on.
To make its displeasure known, the ANCYL marched on the newspaper, under the banner “An attack on our President is an attack on the ANC”.
With more than 50 officers from the SA Police Service and Johannesburg Metro Police Department, police had planned for about 3 000 people.
What they were not prepared for were the 80-odd schoolchildren that were bused in, still in school uniform.
One child told The Citizen she was writing exams tomorrow, so “technically” she was not missing any classes.
T-shirts were quickly handed out and some children made use of the swings and gym equipment in the nearby park while waiting for the march to get under way.
When the march eventually stopped outside the offices of M&G in Rosebank, there were many “Vivas!” and “Phansi (down) with Mail and Garbage”.
“A newspaper that prints nonsense about our president, we will use it in the toilet and we will flush it,” said an incensed Khulekani Skosana of the Congress of South African Students.
Bones Modise said the M&G had become “become a willing propagandist of a counter-revolution against the ANC in support of the opposition”.
While handing the ANCYL memorandum to M&G editor Angela Quintal, the ANC cautioned all media houses that “if you continue doing what you are doing we will be with you”.
M&G Editor-in-chief Chris Roper said it was “strange that the ANCYL would be marching to protest against a news group’s legitimate right to have an analytical opinion on the political situation”.
“In 1994 and 1999 we wrote editorials saying vote for the ANC, and the ANC and ANCYL had absolutely no problem with that.
“This year our editorial said don’t vote for the ANC. I fail to see any fundamental difference in our actions. Why is it right if you are pro-ANC and wrong of you are anti-ANC?” asked Roper.
DA Youth said it was wrong to take pupils out of school to take part in the march.
“This is unacceptable, especially since it is exam time,” the DA’s youth leader Mbali Ntuli said in a statement. – Additional reporting by Sapa