IFP holds protest against City Press editor over articles accusing founder of apartheid atrocities

Tension was high among members of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) as they marched to the offices of City Press in Johannesburg on Friday, accusing the publication’s editor Mondli Makhanya of violating media ethics.

The party is angry about opinion pieces Makhanya has written about its founding leader  

Mangosuthu Buthelezi, including a recent one titled “Hail the mass murderer”, in which he said South Africans were glossing over the history of the veteran politician who was detested by sone during apartheid for his active role in upholding the system.

“It boggles the mind how a nation that claims to be appalled at South Africa’s high levels of violent crime can celebrate a mass murderer who contributed so much to the culture of violence that prevails today; how a people that is so fixated on the sins of the past can so casually overlook the sins of a man who was responsible for so much of the killing that happened in the name of apartheid,” Makhanya wrote in the 28 August article.

On Friday, IFP officials and supporters gathered outside the offices of City Press’s owner Media24, saying they had exhausted all other means of complaining about Makhanya.

“We are here to present a memorandum of our de-satisfaction about the way Mr Mondli Makhanya has been behaving for many years,” IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa said to the crowd, accusing the editor of abusing his platform as a journalist for decades to tarnish the name of the party and its founder.

He questioned why, if Buthelezi was responsible for the apartheid atrocities Makhanya referred to, he had never been convicted.

Members of the IFP, dressed in party regalia, sang protest songs and held up placards which read: “Respect the press code”, “Yes to press freedom, no to lies” and “Stop the slander”.

A party member, who wanted to remain anonymous, told the Mail & Guardian: “We are here to give Mondli a warning; we are tired of him always speaking ill of [Buthelezi]. Next time, we will not be peaceful.”

The M&G sought comment from Makhanya about the march and the IFP’s accusations, but City Press said it was giving all media a standard response by way of a story about the protest, published on its website on Friday.

The story said the IFP had threatened to intensify its action against Makhanya if its demands were not met within 14 days. One of the demands is that the executive management of City Press and Media24 “immediately desist from publishing any new material by Makhanya in which Buthelezi and the IFP are subjected to defamation, pending the finalisation of a court case on this matter”.

In his response carried in the story, Makhanya said the IFP “like everyone else has the right to challenge our reporting and commentary using the multiple avenues that our democratic infrastructure affords”.

He said City Press also had the right to report and comment freely on any subject affecting South African society and “this includes reflecting on the country’s past and how history impacts the present”.

The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) condemned Friday’s march.

“The IFP is using this march as a tool meant to intimidate not just the editor of City Press Mr Mondli Makhanya and his colleagues, but also other members of the media to desist from holding them accountable for their actions,” Sanef media freedom chairperson Makhudu Sefara said.

Sanef noted that journalists were not above criticism, but that where there were disagreements, there were independent bodies available to handle complaints, such as the Press Council and the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa.
However, IFP leader Hlabisa said the party had already lodged “multiple complaints” with the  Press Ombudsman, over the years, about Makhanya’s writings.

The post IFP holds protest against City Press editor over articles accusing founder of apartheid atrocities appeared first on The Mail & Guardian.

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