Malema slammed over Gupta comments


The South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) has accused Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema of inciting violence against journalist following his barring of Gupta-owned institutions at all party events.

Speaking at the media briefing in Johannesburg on Thursday in response to President Jacob Zuma’s proposed Nkandla settlement, Malema said the party would no longer allow journalists from the New Age newspaper and ANN7 news network to cover EFF events, as “those institutions are a product of corrupt activities”.

“They (Guptas) must leave South Africa. We are sick of talking and hearing about them. Sisters and brothers in Gupta firms we love you and don’t want you to be casualties. We can no longer guarantee the safety of those working for the Guptas,” Malema said, before collectively labelling the close relationship between Zuma and the Guptas as Zuptas.

In a statement, SANEF committee chairperson Adriaan Basson said Malema’s comments were of concern as it goes against the principles of freedom of expression.

“The EFF is entitled to its views about media owners, but should allow journalists to conduct their work without fear and in a climate conducive to the free exchange of information,” Basson said.

“Freedom of the media and freedom of expression are enshrined in our Constitution and should be respected by the EFF. We therefore urge the EFF not to ban journalists working for Gupta-owned media from covering events and press conferences and to reaffirm the rights to media freedom and association”.

Reacting to the comments, ANN7 and New Age editor-in-chief Moegsien Williams said the remarks amounted to hate speech and “trampled on the dignity of our journalists”.

“Malema, as a Member of Parliament has sworn to uphold the constitution, violated the constitutional rights of the reporters on several occasions. This is a fragrant breach of clause 12 of the Bill of Rights relating to the freedom and security of the person,” Williams said in statement.

In an interview on ANN7 not long after, Williams took a further swipe at Malema by comparing his remarks to those of United States presidential candidate Donald Trump’s on the banning of all Muslims from the country.

“[Malema] is our very own Donald Trump and I worry about that kind of language when we have an election coming up. If he wants to be a future leader in this country, he must abide by the Constitution”.

African National Congress (ANC) spokesperson Zizi Kodwa has meanwhile rubbished Malema’s allegations that the party had close links with the Guptas, saying the controversial family had no influence on the organisation’s decisions.

“If there are individuals, who for business reasons are influenced by Guptas or have business with the Guptas it does not mean the ANC as an organisation is part of that,” he told News24.