Former DA leader, Cape Town mayor, and Western Cape premier Helen Zille, now a policy fellow at the Institute of Race Relations (IRR), took to Twitter on Wednesday to express the view that the SA media was partly responsible for the rise of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
“For the longest time, the ‘woke’ media actually built up the EFF with what can only be described as ‘fawning’ coverage. Now that the EFF has turned on them, they do not like it. That explains a lot,” she tweeted.
This follows Zille writing a column which argued that, if Sanef won in their case against the EFF and its leader Julius Malema, “the media will have been complicit in curtailing a foundation freedom” – freedom of speech, which she said was “often (correctly) cited as the most fundamental right in a democracy, except for the right to life itself”.
READ MORE: Zille sides with Malema and EFF over Sanef
In the column, she argues that journalists should not be “immune from blow-back”.
She also said Sanef was incorrect in its attempt to classify utterances made by Malema outside the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture as hate speech.
If taken in context, it was clear that Malema “specifically urged his followers not to use violence against journalists,” Zille wrote.
After this column was referenced in a story in The Citizen online titled ‘Zille sides with Malema and EFF over Sanef’, Zille said this headline was misleading.
“I am siding with the Constitution, not Malema”, she said.
For the longest time, the "woke" media actually built up the EFF with what can only be described as "fawning" coverage. Now that the EFF has turned on them, they do not like it. That explains a lot.
— Helen Zille (@helenzille) August 14, 2019
Former DA head of policy Gwen Ngenya responded to Zille’s tweet, making it clear she had no sympathy for the media.
“Like any issue, this must be treated on its own merits. But I can’t help thinking ‘cry me a river,’ the same people who without any corroboration or care paint people as far right-wingers or part of this or other [cabals] now want to cry foul when done to them. Zero introspection,” she said.
Like any issue this must be treated on its own merits. But I can’t help thinking ‘cry me a river,’ the same people who without any corroboration or care paint people as far right wingers or part of this or other cabal now want to cry foul when done to them. Zero introspection.
— Gwen Ngwenya (@GwenNgwenya) August 14, 2019
The Equality Court in the high court in Pretoria reserved judgment in the Sanef vs EFF case last Tuesday.
Sanef approached the court, in their own words, “in defence of media freedom and seeking protection of journalists against sustained intimidation and threats against journalists by EFF leader Julius Malema and his supporters”.
They were joined in the case by five journalists – Adriaan Basson, Pauli van Wyk, Barry Bateman, Ranjeni Munusamy, and Max du Preez.
During an adjournment, the forum’s chairperson, Mahlatse Mahlase, told media that the organisation was confident it would win the case, and had successfully shown a direct link between utterances made by Malema outside the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture last year and threats and attacks which followed, from EFF supporters on Twitter.
Malema, however, disagreed.
“We are more than happy that the loudmouths have come to expose themselves here,” he told members of the media. “There is nothing this court will find against the EFF.”