Rhoda Kadalie
3 minute read
31 Jan 2014
9:00 am

The more things change…

Rhoda Kadalie

The debate raging over Iqbal Surve's takeover of Independent newspapers is an illuminating one.

On the contrary – I remember clouds of political dust being kicked about when O’Reilly assumed ownership as a foreigner, not least for his links with Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe.

O’Reilly wasted no time sucking up to the ANC elite, many of them bragging about their flights to Ireland and his fabulous house there.

Lest we forget, Independent also gave column space to one of the ANC’s leading lights, Joel Netshitenze, while it was the most vicious towards Tony Leon. At the time I objected strongly to the flagrant partisanship in the Cape Times and Argus, not least because my columns did not escape the gaze of their censorious and politically-correct editorial team.

Mde and Brown continue very much in the same vein, if not worse, by stating: “In two recent examples where ANC-linked black businesspeople have either bought or founded mainstream media companies, the backlash from the minority-controlled mainstream has been ferocious and tinged with racism.

“The New Age was pilloried and labelled, its brand destroyed before the newspaper hit the streets, because its proprietors were open about wanting a paper that was more ‘positive’ about South Africa and wasn’t intuitively anti-government.”

What a load of drivel in need of some serious deconstruction! Presenting The New Age as a politically innocent player is devious beyond belief. It is a paper owned not only by the politically-linked Guptas, but is also bankrolled by the nation’s taxes via government department support. Mde and Brown write: “For his part, Surve, who wears his ANC heart on his sleeves, has been portrayed as the worst anti-press

freedom bogeyman. He was accused from the get-go of leading ‘a government take-over’ of the Independent group, or alternatively a Chinese colonial takeover, or both.”

Will they explain to me why I should trust a media owner who not only “wears his ANC heart on his sleeves” but who also reaps millions from government procurement deals?

A close reading of their column reveals an argument for a continuation of the status quo and not transformation, which in South African parlance means a replacement of whites with non-whites (of a special type)!

This language mirrors the discourse between the Zuma-ites versus the Mbeki-ites – “you have had your turn, now it is ours”.

Under O’Reilly, the Independent group always sucked up to the ANC and the ruling elite. At least the Irishman did it with his own dollars; now we are paying for the propaganda, as well as apparatchiks, who openly admit that objectivity is impossible to attain unless we declare our biases up front.

They forget the old adage that comment is free, but facts are sacred. There is no guarantee that a politically embedded guy like Surve and his minions will be fair, objective and impartial.

He who pays the piper calls the tune.