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Malema and ANCYL: The new Idi Amin

All journalists who would in future dare criticise the ANCYL and its leaders, must make sure that they do not have skeletons in the cupboard lest they get investigated by the league. Anyone who doubted that we are descending onto a banana republic must have their doubts cleared up by this extraordinary development. With all the shenanigans at the ANC Youth League and all the systemic corruption of ANC deployees and politicians in all possible spheres of society driving the news room agenda of many newspapers, the poor imperfect journalists will have to scramble to find some new things to write about.

To say that this is an ultimate assault on the freedom of expression is an understatement. We do not need far fetched examples to know that this is how repression starts. The media watchdog, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) has reported recently that the freedom of the press on our continent is in a parlous state. It says in its recent report that: “The DRC continues to be one of those African countries where exercising the right to information can lead to prison, hospital and sometimes the cemetery”. It also dubbed Sierra Leone “one of the worst press-freedom violators” following the imprisonment a few years ago of leading journalist Paul Kamara for four years on trumped-up libel charges. It says of Zimbabwe — where you could be arrested for poking fun at the president — freedom of the press there “simply does not exist”. (This must sound familiar to the likes of Zapiro.)

We are reminded of the tragedy of Rwanda where years after the genocide the government continues to “behave like a predator” harassing the press in that country. All over the continent, stories of journalists’ families being tortured and their homesteads being torched by intolerant regimes abound.

Interestingly, the media watchdog, in its many scathing reports, have always given South Africa high marks on the question of the freedom of the press especially after 1994. The ANCYL’s scandalous conduct is taking us back to an era worse than apartheid and threatens this good name. The apartheid regime, like the other regimes described above, investigated journalists as a matter of course, tailed them, tapped their phones and harassed their families and friends. This was done to break their spirit and shut them up — sometimes for good. In order to get personal information about journalists the youth league will have to do similarly shady things. It is heartening that Zuma has plucked up the courage to ask the question: “For what?” Well the answer is simple Mr president — so that the journalists can back off and not expose the rot that has set in, so that they stop probing where ANC politicians get their millions to sustain their lifestyles. It is not complicated at all.

This is a continuation of a culture of intolerance of dissent that is now taking on a new and dangerous dimension and instead of asking a bland question, Zuma must act to assure the country that this is not happening under his sanction. The best way is to order an immediate investigation against the youth league for fragrant violation of the Constitution that he has vowed to protect. Anything less will be seen as nothing but the tacit approval of the intimidation of the media: the birth of the new Idi Amin’s of our present and of our future.

Does all this mean that the journalists are innocent? Are journalists at fault for using underhand tactics to get information on politicians? Are journalists entitled to have inappropriate relationships with politicians to extract information? Do journalists do their profession well by being sucked into factional fighting of political parties? Of course not. The fourth estate must also urgently engage in some introspection about how some among them are fuelling the destruction of public confidence in the objective role of the media to tell the truth. There are just too many stories doing the rounds about journalists who prostitute themselves for scoops. Sanef has to look into this and not put its head in the sand. None of the weaknesses of the fourth estate however can ever justify the ANCYL taking the law into their own hands and probably abusing state apparatus to assemble a new arsenal of intimidation. If this is allowed one wonders what will be next? Prosecutors who are “not perfect”, being intimidated from prosecuting the politically connected? Investigators who are “not angels” being told to back off?

We cannot be a country that is guided by the lowest common denominator of our human frailties. One wonders whether the ANC will take a strong stance against this rot or will they turn a blind eye in revenge for all the bad dice that the media has been dealing them lately? Time will tell.


  • Onkgopotse JJ Tabane is Chief Executive of Oresego Holdings - International Business Advisors. He is an accredited Associate of the Institute for Independent Business International (iib). He writes here in his personal capacity. --------------------------------------------- Onkgopotse JJ Tabane is a Media and Communications Specialist who has become a public commentator on a wide range of socio political issues over the last decade. He has cut his teeth in both Government and Private Sector as a top communicator winning awards such as the Government Communicator of the year in 2002 and holding senior positions such as Ministerial Spokesperson for various ministers, Head of Ministry of Environmental Affairs, Communications Advisor to the Chamber of Mines Communications Vice President and General Manager at South African Airways as well as Chief Executive of Graphicor and Simeka Communications. He has also held a senior corporate affairs Job at Top Electonic Company Altron where he was in Charge of the company’s Transformation Programme and Corporate Social Investment. When COPE was formed in 2008 Tabane quit his Corporate Job to Join COPE as their Head of Communications leading up to the 2009 General election. Until July 2010 Today amongst his many activities he was the Political Advisor to Former COPE Parliamentary Leader Dr Mvume Dandala and occasional contributor to many publications. He has also served on various boards of directors including as a member of the Gauteng Tourism Authority, Johannesburg Tourism Authority and until recently chaired the board of the Indalo Yethu Environmental Campaign. He is still a member of the Northwest University Council where he is serving his second term. JJ Tabane is widely known for his forthright manner of debate and fearless tackling of public commentary since his student days where he was SRC President and Vice President at the Universities of the North and Western Cape where he qualified in Law and Politics. He holds a BA,( UNIN), BPROC (UWC) and Masters in Political Economy (NMMU). He is married to Lorraine Ditshedi Tabane and has two children, Oreabetse (4) and Resego (12) after whom he has named his newly launched International Advisory Business Oresego Holdings.


  1. suntosh suntosh 28 March 2010

    An important article. These kinds of public commentary on the woeful state of our immature ‘youth’ ‘leaders’ will be reflected upon in years to come if the state of democracy in SA topples. We will pitifully say that the writing was on the wall and we ignored the worrying signs that our freedom was in trouble.
    The Idi Amin analogy is a good one – What would we do NOW if we knew Malema and his cronies were going to be the next Amins?

  2. Grant Grant 28 March 2010

    “One wonders whether the ANC will take a strong stance against this rot…”

    I think we all know the answer to this one. When faced with a decision, when in the last 15 years have the ANC made the right call? Never. Don’t hold your breath on this one.

  3. Atlas Reader Atlas Reader 29 March 2010

    The ANCYL claim to speak for all young blacks. Unfortunately, and as a direct consequence, when they say their stupid things, they make all young black look just as stupid as themselves.

    It’s really not a good look, if you’re young and black. It’s very funny and ego-boosting if you’re not.

  4. Siobhan Siobhan 29 March 2010

    Journalists don’t create the news; they just report it. Journalists did not set up some elaborate sting operation by virtue of which the most corrupt members of the ANC landed jobs where they could steal the nation’s taxes for their personal use instead of doing the JOBS they were supposedly hired to do.

    Journalists did not create the ARMS DEAL; the ANC did. Journalists did not pressure the DPP to drop corruption charges against Zuma; the ANC and the ANCYL did.

    Journalists did not raid pension funds, create tenderpreneurs or a kleptocracy; the ANC and ANCYL did.

    It has been obvious from the get-go that Julius Malema is South Africa’s Idi Amin. He is corruption personified, a man with many ‘comrades’ but no real friends. He would not hesitate to ‘eliminate’ ANYONE he no longer found useful, including Zuma, as we have already observed.

    It is obvious that the ANCYL intends a coup d’etat to unseat the ANC government altogether and take it over. Far fetched? So was the idea that Mugabe would starve and torture his own people…until he did it.

    Zuma is owned by his ‘comrades’ to whom he owes his daily bread. He is a lame duck and has been since day one. He will never lead; he will hide behind the collective and mouth inanities. The kleptocracy is already being replaced–by the Kak-ocracy.

    Amin, Nguema. Obiang, Biya, Kabila, Taylor, Bokassa, Sese Seko, Kagame, Mengisthu, Mswanti, Mugabe, Malema. Kak-ocracy.

  5. Jusuf Magombo Jusuf Magombo 29 March 2010

    Once again – welcome to Africa. Here in Malawi, where the two national dailies have a combined circulation of about 30 000 (some to the same readers) and the national broadcaster is pro government, we do not have a press that can afford to be vibrant. But when it gets close to the touchy nerves the pressure comes in from Government. The latest excuse from Government spokespersons and politicians: “With rights comes responsibility”. Of course, the exact nature of that responsibility is never spelt out – and can’t be. It is just another excuse to keep the truth from the people.

  6. Brian Dawes Brian Dawes 29 March 2010

    A well tooled essay.

  7. Beerboep Beerboep 29 March 2010

    It appears the president Zuma is not fully in control of the country, but I believe otherwise. He knows exactly what he is doing. Remember the statement “I will only serve for one term”, that he made. Well like most of his statements it was a blatant lie. He knew that he would entrench himself and serve many more terms. Mugabe is showing him the way, and Malema will through intimidation and violence bring him the vote. Our so called democracy is a sham.

  8. feanor feanor 29 March 2010

    Malema put the Idi into idiot……….

  9. prissie prissie 29 March 2010

    what a shame? the truth will prevail someday,
    what a sad day for professionals and academic.

    let no one be above the law, despite the status,the world is watching and waiting, shape up to those who are corrupt and unashamed.

  10. Lolonga Tali Lolonga Tali 29 March 2010

    Well said, JJ. It is quite curious to note that the ANCYL has donned the garb of fighter of corruption only after it has been revealed that their president is not as upright as he is supposed to be. Indeed, the aim is not so much to root out corruption, as the honourable Floyd Shivambu wants us to belive, but to frighten journalists into self-censorship. If they were really concerned about corruption: Why not institute an inquiry into everyone within the organisation? We have the Press Ombudsman, SANEF and many other bodies to investigate journalists. We do not need the Youth League trying to portray itself as a paragon of virtue. Lastly, is it fair for one investigated by acceptable public watchdogs to call for a counter investigation? Journalism 101 students will tell Malema et al that by virtue of being a public figure you forfeit some of your privacy.

  11. Intellectually Challenged Intellectually Challenged 29 March 2010

    Bravo, JJ, you have given the doomsday sayers further ammunition to rubbish the country. Your attempt to brush all ANC deployees as corrupt is both disingenuous and hypocrytical. I don’t think we would read about incidences of corruption, if that organisation was not committed to root out corruption in our society. Its leaders has, on several occasions spoken out strongly, and acted against those found wanting on this.

    Methinks that the media in South Africa enjoys the freedoms it has because of the commitment of the ANC to the ideals in our country’s Constitution. So, I do not think that the words of a few lunatics should be taken seriously.

  12. Rory Short Rory Short 29 March 2010

    @JJ I think you are completely correct. The general tone of the ANCYL’s behaviour is anti-democratic and the responses of their senior partners, the leadership of the ANC, is apparent acceptance of this kind of behaviour because they do not take action against it. There is an old truth which states ‘Evil flourishes when good men do nothing’.

    If these leaders view themselves as good men they actually need to take vigorous action against this kind of anti-democratic behaviour at once. This behaviour carried to its logical conclusion will take us back to the dark ages existing pre-1994. If they don’t take action against it, whether they like it or not, they are complicit in it.

  13. Sparks Sparks 29 March 2010

    This can be stopped while there still time

  14. Robin Grant Robin Grant 29 March 2010

    Grant, I’m afraid that your post is a bit of a low blow. The ANC have done a lot of good in the last 15 years.
    But by the same token, a lot has gone awry as well. This is what happens when politicians as opposed to professionals run key departments. Sadly, it is these politicians who have the most to lost to fix the problem properly, and they will hang on to their power at all costs. This is what we are beginning to witness on a large scale.

    The only way to fix it is from the top, and I am afraid to say that I do not think Mr Zuma has the audacity or the required gonads to set this problem straight.

  15. Perplexed Perplexed 29 March 2010

    Good article and analogy. Note:I think the saying goes like this..”The most turbulent time, is NOT when the new liberating party comes to power…its the time,when they feel they are starting to lose power!” Hold onto your breaches and tighten those seat belts…we’re in for a rocky time ahead ! The Mugabe Zuma Zanupf ANC mindset..have a lot more in common than we think.

  16. The Creator The Creator 29 March 2010

    It’s remarkable that our journalists are capable of such twaddle. When faced with the horrid prospect of having their own corruption, dishonesty and fraud exposed, they start screaming about how things are worse than apartheid and that the darkies are coming to get them and it’s just like Idi Amin.

    And the most scary thing is that it’s a black man writing this cowardly white racist gibberish. Shame on you, Mr. Tabane.

  17. Neil Parker Neil Parker 29 March 2010

    Have to admit I supported the ‘Polokwane process’ because I was tired of Mbeki’s Aids denialism and endless prevarication over Zim. But in retrospect it seems to have resulted in the ‘bare bottoms brigade’ becoming the ‘de facto’ rulers of the country.If the elder statesmen of this nation are unable to set the example and put the silly youth in their place, then Jansen’s ‘Lord of the Flies’ scenario will play out.

  18. mike mike 29 March 2010

    in many societies 5% can rule because of apathy of the 95%-this is a danger see 1930’s Germany/60’s SA
    Many moan about various leaders, but between voting days this is all we do…including myself
    If all the moaners went and took an active part in politics we could have the ANC-OAP’s as a group
    I would make a min age of 55 and as regards the Youth League I’d make the age 25 max
    Have a great day-

  19. Bongs Bongs 29 March 2010

    Grant talks of a rot and JJ does admit that there might be wrong doing in the part of some journalists’
    , but the question is , if Julius and company haven’t done what they did ,would you JJ still admit of some unbecoming behavior of journalists?

    Haven’t listened to the issues on both side , that is the journalists concerned and also Floyd , I’m still asking what was the wrong doing on the part of Floyd and company.

    Facts are , The media always , always have liked info that include doc’s that are suspiciously acquired. case in point our former health minister’s medical documents, our current Gauteng premier traffic records and many many other cases.

    The media does not report all these cases to the police or any other authority , they simply publish.

    The case against JZ before Polokwane were he was called a criminal by the media and many other untested things said about him. He took action and most of those cases were settled out of court without letting the public what were the out comes. I’m not surprised cause we as the public we must not know how corrupt the media is , how corrupt the judiciary is , cause as soon as you raise questions , media freedom is under attack , judiciary in under treat and so on.


  20. zibusisozethu sithole zibusisozethu sithole 29 March 2010

    the threat to the media is not only a gross violation to the freedom of the press and expressionon on an individual level it is also a violation of the publics right to information .
    It is not only the likes of Julius Malema who pose a threat to journalists ability to relay honest and important messages to the public , it is also the sensationalist culture which has taken the South African media by storm of late , sweeping statement and dramatic headlines make for an image of mediocracy which also damages the medias chances of actually being taken seriously. the ethical duty of journalists goes further than how they find information it is also how they give it .

  21. MLH MLH 29 March 2010

    That’s a big ‘if’ Suntosh. I wonder that you are still in any doubt.

    Apartheid was somehow far simpler. No promises were made; every one of us knew we had to be careful (and that regulated the law-abiding ones, although it didn’t help the disadvantaged).

    And let’s face facts, all the noise in the world isn’t improving life for the still disadvantaged, anyway.

    Now we can only ask: ‘Which promise gets broken next?’

  22. Dave (Zim) Dave (Zim) 29 March 2010

    South Africans must relentlessly defend their freedom of speech and thought. To do otherwise is to invite yet another failed state, as Zimbabwe is today.

  23. gumrol gumrol 29 March 2010

    The fact that the ANC has not already made a statement against the Youth League’s behaviour is very telling. Great article – well worth the read.

  24. Kitty Kat Kitty Kat 29 March 2010

    A classic example of dumbing down the public at large and for good measure lets throw in some hard-core atrocities.
    The public at large has a right to be informed and media is critical to democracy to ensure that the level of understanding of civil discourse is informed through a balanced analysis. The endemic problem in media today however is the sheer shallowness of the rumour mill and the focus on non-issues. Firstly, there is no attack on the right to freedom of expression but an accusation levelled at media for corrupt practises. Now clearly those are two totally different arguments. Secondly, since when has media acted in an honest and responsible way noting that media houses are nothing but money making machines. Herein we note the advent of ‘imbedded journalists’ and the practise of the papparazi machinery. The conveyor belt of lies has never worked more overtime than it has now, to what end. Make more money, sell more newspapers. Now consider for a moment that you do not have journalist whose only responsibility is the truth, but churnolists who now think of the number of newspapers they have to sell to make target.Look at the Voice produced in the wcape. It is a classic eg of isolationism and degrading news seen thru a corporate lens aimed at coloureds only. You cannot look at this type of churnolism, depicting body parts and disgusting news and argue in principle that it is responsible and honest reporting!

  25. Fani Dingiswayo Fani Dingiswayo 29 March 2010

    JJ, I can’t comment on this lest my evil is exposed, sorry broer

  26. Rory Short Rory Short 29 March 2010

    If principles are to actually be principles then they need to be adhered to by all especially when in the process of endeavouring to point out another’s lack of principle. ANCLY in threatening to expose journalists alleged misdemeanour’s was not acting on principle, if it had been it would have approached the press ombudsman or some related institution with its claims. It was just trying to frighten journalists from carrying out their duties as journalists.

  27. Lilo Elo Lilo Elo 29 March 2010

    Journalists and everyone else who takes interest into probing others must not hide skeletons in their cupboards,and that does not mean the kindergaten mob has the right to blackmail the journos.The constitution of our country is too good to be true,it is not a tool the poor can use to benefit materially,I only see the monied and the learned from time to time refering to the constitutional institutions whenever they do not get it their way.People that are poor resort to violent protest,burn tyres and blockade roads as if there are no channels for them to voice their needs,this constitution just means nothing at all,if it is a tool used to silence them (the poor or the formely oppressed like me),then it is doing a good one,as for the ancyl mob abusing their political connectivity to abuse this good book,I do not support them,they must be exposed

  28. Jojo Jojo 29 March 2010

    There is no such thing as a free press. The press is always sponsored. JJ will never attack COPE the way he attacks (Not critisize) the ANC. That is how subjective journos are. Because the press will never be free, the many african states figured that they would rather control the press forcefully, than let someone else control it financially. Which is worse? To each, his own.

  29. DM DM 29 March 2010

    Never siezes to amaze how puportedly innocent revolutions end up outdoing the departed oppressor – its a shame. These “revolutionaries” just want to play on your expectations and you help them win power and once that is done, that’s where you part company. To your horror they will be already drawing new battle lines with you the former collaborator!!

  30. shane brody shane brody 30 March 2010

    The Creator!…pitty that with your comment about a “black man writing racist gibberish” you clearly indicate that you must be a person of colour trapped in victim black-on-white racist mentality…essentially, you probably forgot when journos once fiercely fought the Apartheid regime to bring you freedom. Yes, these were often white people fighting for your civil liberties as a black South African…seemingly you are quite content being taken as a fool by the ANCYL who use YOUR support to become super-wealthy…hammer them journos!

    Perhaps one day you will understand that journalists are merely fighting for your right to be governed according to the many promises which were made to the poor and destitute…not goverened as a subject of oligarchs-in-waiting. By trying to victimize and muzzle journalists is undoubtedly an exercise which is tantamount to the atrocities which have occured (and still occur) in Africa…remember, if any untruths are reported, there are policing mechanisms through which such can be reported/adressed…if no action is taken by the ANCYL, have you not considered then, that perhaps reports about them are not lies?

  31. White Refugee White Refugee 30 March 2010

    Excellent article, which accurately described reality, and accordingly fits the description of ‘Quite Frankly’! Well Said Sir!.

  32. WTF WTF 30 March 2010

    @ The Creator and the other anti-free press morons – you are all talking absolute twaddle. There will always have to be people (journalists) who expose government abuses and corruption. And yes, they may have skeletons in their closet. But what’s important is that those skeletons didn’t get there with public money. Why are you so opposed to robust free press? It works fine in two-thirds of the world, why should it not be acceptable in Africa? Looks like Steve Hoymeyer was right…

  33. Onkgopotse JJ Tabane Onkgopotse JJ Tabane Post author | 30 March 2010

    @The Creator: I write what I like. It really does not matter to me who is on the other end. i beli eve that we ought to learn to debate and not always try and shoot the messenger….

  34. Phetogo Phetogo 31 March 2010

    today tyhe ANC is taking the FF+ to court over the “hate speeech” of malema,COSATU agrees,regarding the “Kill the boer” song,Its a sad da,they do not see anything wrong with singing the song,sad day indeed,As always people will use anything for thier own selfish interests,its part of your history yes,but it kills everything we are trying to buit,it breaks the rainbow into pieces,In life everything depends on where you want to go,sacrifises have to be made,the song should be left in history where it belongs,why not sing other songs,some use our rich cultural history to futher thier sexual desires,now they are attacking the journalists,wow,doesnt this remind u of Zanu-PF,slowly it degraded the zimbabwe,Zuma was a mistake,a huge one,we have to admit that at least

  35. Peter Peter 31 March 2010

    @ the Creator.

    Read any history – shooting the messenger is just sooo stupid!

    Wake up bru

  36. Intellectually Challenged Intellectually Challenged 31 March 2010

    Nobody should think that they are above the law. The media is no exception. I hold no brief for the lunatics in the YL, but I think they are unfairly targeted by the media. The question that beckons is, why must the media (the self-proclaimed fourth estate) be allowed to pry into the private lives of politicians, when they themselves are not open to public scrutiny?

  37. Lilo Elo Lilo Elo 31 March 2010

    WTF,the line between Public and Private money is very thin.If one can follow your thinking one would forget that good governance is a pre-requisite in both sectors,and that means all must be scrutinized and be exposed for who they are,JSE will agree with this

  38. Rejoice Ngwenya Rejoice Ngwenya 31 March 2010

    @Jojo: “There is no such thing as a free press”. Really? I have heard that from Mugabe before, anything that is not ZANU-PF is colonial. Get real, Jojo, Mugabe claims Zimbabweans are ‘free’. Free from what? Ian Smith. But are we really free from ZANU-PF? Borrowing from you: “There is no such thing as independence!”

    @Intellectually challenged: “why must the media (the self-proclaimed fourth estate) be allowed to pry into the private lives of politicians” Exactly – why must politicians go public when asking for our votes? So that we publicise their inequities! We own them, so anything should be done to keep their excesses in the public domain.

  39. p.kaitakirwa p.kaitakirwa 1 April 2010

    the anc needs serious self examination.if the party continues support buffoons within its ranks then this could mark the beginning of the end.sadly all victorious liberation parties in africa have taken this route to the grave.a wise man learns from his mistakes but a wiser one learns from others did we find ourselves in this situation so soon after 1994.

  40. Brian Brian 7 April 2010

    Malema, ek is SO jammer om van al julle kak hier in Suid-Afrika te hoor. Malema, wish me luck as you wave me good bye, want hier kom groot moeilikheid, en ek het nou lank genoeg die illusie geleef dat dinge kan beter word. Ek wonder of die 95 werksgeleenthede wat deur my vertrek nou moer toe is en die R430 000 pj PAYE persoonlike belasting wat ek betaal gemis sal word? Ek sal my vriende, waarvan baie swart is, baie mis. Hallo Amerika…

  41. GB GB 8 April 2010

    Most of the people in the country want to work together towards a better future. It is sad that we have a minority of people black and white that revert to racist policies and statements due to a complete myopic attitude. To aspire to these racist and often greedy attitudes makes people no better than those with them. Mugabe’s policies have been a complete disaster for Zimbabwe and even South Africa in the form of Xenophobic attacks. The media gives us a chance to ask questions of politicians that we as South Africans deserve answers to. Land reform (as important as it is), needs to implemented properly or it will also be a complete disaster for this country. Degree or no degree the same rules apply. Malema’s outburst interestingly enough was almost identical to that of the General Secretary of the AWB not even a day before. Neither of them think things through, both are racist and both behave like idiots.

    It is necessary for politicians to answer to the people.Why would Malema want to bring in Land reforms that have been proven not to work? His motives are definitely dubious. Hence the racial slur on a White journalist who dared to question a Black politician. Colour is irrelevant, it is his actions and motives that are unacceptable.

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