28 May 2024 | 09:09 AM

Statement: Why Malema should not get away with banning us

Key Takeaways

AmaBhungane notes EFF leader Julius Malema’s remarks declaring amaBhungane “an enemy of the revolution” during the party’s Robert Mugabe memorial yesterday.

Listen: Julius Malema declares amaBhungane “an enemy of the revolution”.

Malema claimed that amaBhungane, the Daily Maverick and the latter’s Scorpio investigative unit were part of a stratcom campaign waged by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan against EFF leaders.

AmaBhungane is a fiercely independent investigative non-profit which publishes via amaBhungane.org and partners such as the Daily Maverick.

Malema said: “We are in a war here… If you think we are playing, you must stand aside.”

His remarks about us included: “AmaBhungane and Daily Maverick and Scorpio … they are not a media house, they are a gangster formed to pursue the interests of Pravin Gordhan, and as a result in this memorial service of Gabriel Robert Mugabe we declare them as an enemy of the revolution and they shall never participate in our events.

“[We] shall never answer any question from amaBhungane, from Daily Maverick, from Scorpio. Let them write any nonsense they want to write about us. We know who writes their question, it’s Pravin.”

AmaBhungane last week sent the EFF a request for comment regarding alleged tender corruption in Johannesburg and Tshwane, both cities where the party wields significant power. We have received no reply.

Our request related in part to new evidence in a story we wrote last November, Firm that won R1bn Jo’burg fleet contract paid Malema-EFF ‘slush-fund’.

AmaBhungane is committed to doing stories that are accurate and fair, expose wrongdoing and empower people to hold power to account.

We serve no-one’s agenda.

We regret Malema’s remarks, which seem intended to inoculate his followers against the exposure he fears.

They show reckless disregard for the potential to incite violence.

They will fan the loudening online — and we fear offline — hate campaigns experienced by journalists.

They will fuel perceptions of media as factional tools, widening existing divisions and creating new ones.

They take a leaf right from Donald Trump’s book, who only last week tweeted that two Washington Post reporters “shouldn’t even be allowed on the grounds of the White House because their reporting is so DISGUSTING & FAKE”.

It is not only the media that suffers when parties ban some journalists and speak only with those they favour or brow-beat into critical silence. It is the parties too, for the more they try to shield their followers from critical reporting, the more they cut themselves off from the rest of the public.

In the end, we’ll all be talking past each other. Democratic discourse will give way to intimidation and fear, the slippery slope to the war Malema proclaims.

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Before joining the amaBhungane team in 2017, Micah was the national coordinator for media freedom and diversity at the Right2Know Campaign. He holds a Masters in African Studies from Oxford University and a BA Honours in History from Wits University.

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