NEWS – yet to be confirmed but solidly reported in The Times - that Julius Malema is be let off the hook by the ANC following a meeting of the two organisations yesterday shows just how weak a presidency Jacob Zuma is running.
The only way to properly understand this is to see him as the equivalent of a coalition ruler who must appease the parties that placed him in power or lose it all. The ANC’s coalition was not forged at last year’s election, it was forged at Polokwane where Zuma united all those against Mbeki to take power.
But the coalition partners – the ANC’s Youth League, Cosatu, the SACP – have made it plain that they owe Zuma no loyalty and are quite willing to openly and publicly contradict him.
And Zuma has shown that he is simply in no position to impose discipline for fear of losing support.
This plays right into Zuma’s leadership style of pandering to all and never making his own views known. His response to criticism appear to be to call for “a national debate” instead of spelling out how he sees it.
The message to the ANC leadership is simple: It’s a free for all. Say what you want, do what you want and Zuma will pretend that its all just part of the ANC way.
Here are five quotes from the testimony of former police commissioner (er … general?) Jackie Selebi in court today, as reported by The Times reporter, Sally Evans:
1. “I would never sell my soul or my country for money”;
2. “Agliotti is the type of person if I said I was a born again Christian, he would say I invited Jackie to see God.”
3. “Here is a guy who looks like he is ready to help. He made a proposal, it sounded very fantastic at the time. I would import second hand clothing from Japan and this clothing can be distributed to the returning exiles.”
4. “I would be regarded as a mad person if I wear Fubu, you put on these huge baggy pant, everything is huge, my children don’t put on Fubu.”
5. “The DSO’s Johannesburg office went to police offices and picked up police information and stole that information and went back to DSO meetings and presented that information as their own. Here are people sitting here syphoning the money, some of them are sitting here in court now.”
I think a very significant media development is taking place right under our noses, one that we will return to for years to come as a turning point in South African media consumption.
If the preliminary stats are anything to go by, this is going to be the biggest month of news consumption online ever.
All indications are that the combined effect of the Terre Blanche murder and the subsequent speculation over his private life and the rabid behaviour of Julius Malema – not to mention Jacob Zuma’s harsh riposte – is going to push online readership stats through the stratosphere.
Media operations that are well positioned (and I believe the Sunday Times and The Times are with www.timeslive) will find themselves in the pound seats across print and digital platforms.
The challenge for print to offer something unique in this environment is more difficult than ever, but, as the Sunday Times has shown, it can be done. There’s nothing like a great challenge to focus our minds.
The Times reports today that ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema has publicly challenged Jacob Zuma who publicly rebuked him this weekend.
Malema said at the end of the league’s Limpopo conference: ”…I was shocked by what happened . . . even president [Thabo] Mbeki, having differed with the youth league and the youth league taking such firm radical positions against him, I have never seen him doing that before.”
So the gauntlet has been thrown down and there will now be a confrontation. The Times reports that Malema faces four disciplinary charges related to:
•Defying a High Court ruling banning the singing of the struggle song Dubul’ ibhunu;
•Defying the national executive committee ruling on the public comments and behaviour of ANC members and leaders;
•Interfering in and undermining the Zimbabwe peace process by siding with Zanu-PF and verbally attacking the MDC; and
•Launching verbal attacks on journalists.
Ahem. This falls in the shameless self-promotion department …
SUNDAY TIMES EDITOR MONDLI MAKHANYA PROMOTED TO EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF AVUSA MEDIA NEWSPAPERS
Thursday, 25 March 2010
Sunday Times editor Mondli Makhanya has been promoted to editor-in-chief of Avusa Media newspapers it was announced today.
Announcing the promotion Avusa CEO Prakash Desai said that in his new position Makhanya would be charged with setting up and running centres of excellence that will produce unique, original and compelling content for all of the group’s newspapers and websites. In this new role, he would also represent the interests of editors on the Avusa Media management committee.
The editor of The Times, Ray Hartley, will assume the editorship of the Sunday Times and the editor of Business Times, Phylicia Oppelt, will become the editor of The Times. They will both report to Makhanya as will all other editors of Avusa Media newspapers. Read More…
TODAY The Times publishes a story which affects each and every reader in a very real way. It is to do with threats to the quality of our water from increasing pollution from disused mineshafts.
Mining is an environmentally destructive process which can lead the wide-scale contamination of ground water with toxic heavy metals, acids and even radioactive substances.
To negate this effect, mining houses pump water out of mineshafts before it can become dangerously contaminated and seep into the surrounding ground water.
The problem arises when mine shafts, usually part of marginal mining operations, are closed because their minerals are exhausted or because they are no longer financially viable due to changes in the market prices of minerals.
The pumping of the water ceases, the mineshafts fill up and the dangerous metals and acids enter the water. With time, this water leaches out of the mineshafts and enters the surrounding ground water.
This time bomb has been ticking on the Witwatersrand for decades and experts believe that the ground water will soon be so heavily contaminated that it will be undrinkable and it will affect the viability of plant life.
Because water is regarded as an “unsexy” topic, this ground water crisis will in all likelihood go unnoticed by the broader public and there is little pressure on the state to do something about it.
The first step that should be immediately taken is to make mining houses continue with pumping operations at shafts they no longer use.
The second is that the issuing of mining licences must take into account the long term effect of extraction on the water table.
This ought to be national crisis as we are fast running out of time to save our ground water.
THE rape of a paramedic, who were attending to a baby with burns, ranks as one of the most heinous crimes this country has ever witnessed.
It is an horrific assault on a person who makes tremendous sacrifices to save lives and prevent harm to strangers for very little reward.
All readers of The Times condemn this action and stand behind the victim as she recovers from this assault.
But this is also an attack on the very fabric of our society, it is an assault on the foundation values of humanity.
It shows that there is no longer even the faintest notion of respect for the basic humanity of fellow citizens in the eyes of these thugs.
It is this sort of incident which causes anger of the type which results in calls for police to adopt a “shoot to kill” approach.
How many would shed a tear if the perpetrators of this crime were to be blown away by rounds from a policeman’s weapon.
But we should contain our anger and instead work with the police to arrest, try, convict and jail these people.
This is not the easy path, but it is the only path that seriously challenges crime.
The community of Durban Deep must stand shoulder to shoulder and work with the police to identify these criminals.
It has been shown time and time again that when people unite and take a stand, the game changes for criminals.
Communities that have involved their residents in vigilance, in detection and in sharing information on crime have without exception seen a drop in criminal activity in their neighbourhoods.
Those who committed this terrible crime must find themselves in a hard jail cell for life where they can mull over the awfulness of their actions until the end of their days.
YESTERDAY we published two pictures showing a mother with her drowned four-year-old son in her arms.
The child’s face was not visible, but the mother was captured in a moment of great pain.
It was an image which shocked many readers and several have written to us to say that we went over the mark.
Our decision to publish the pictures was informed by several factors.
The members of the family of the drowned children (an infant also drowned) did not object to The Times taking pictures and did not ask that they not be published.
The pictures did not show the face of the child and were not close up photographs.
We believed that the pictures would shock parents into asking themselves what they were doing to protect their children against a similar fate.
One reader wrote the following: “I know very well how we have to use our judgment every day in balancing what is newsworthy and civic-minded against intrusion on personal grief and loss, and we get it wrong sometimes, I think this is one of those times.”
This comment went to the heart of why it was so difficult to publish pictures of such a very personal moment.
It would be easy to supply a glib answer and rattle off the reasons supplied above.
But that would not capture the very ambiguous feelings that The Times staff had about publishing the pictures.
The truth is that although the pictures technically overcame all the hurdles, they still belonged in a grey area where there are no easy answers.
I have no doubt that the pictures did achieve the objective of making readers think about the safety of their children. But we would think carefully before publishing their like again.
TODAY, The Times front page marked 20 years since Nelson Mandela’s release. We carried a front page story on how the entire country would celebrate the event.
We carried an advertisement in our masthead for an insightful, moving article by Trevor Manuel looking back on 11 February 1990.
We carried a picture of Mandela’s statue outside the Groot Drakenstein prison against a wonderful blue sky dotted with clouds.
And, to the disappointment of some, we carried an advertisement for socialite Khanyi Mbau’s condom test which we ran in our center spread.
The disappointed wanted to know why The Times would spoil a good package on Mandela with a puff about condoms.
The answer is simple: South Africa, while it has much to celebrate, remains in the grip of an awful Aids epidemic which continues to take the lives of young and old alike.
Sonorous appeals by elder statesmen are not going to persuade this generation to use condoms. It’s going to take the word of a socialite like Mbau, who bravely admitted to contracting a sexually transmitted disease in our article, to do it.
The time for squeamishness and moralising has long passed. We need to do all we can to continue to hammer home the message about how to avoid contracting this deadly disease and we dare not slacken off, even when pressing national issues appear to be “more important”.
Khanyi Mbau putting out a message about safe sex is as important a message as that celebrating the anniversary of Mandela’s release. Perhaps more so, because it talks to the future.