Monday, August 2, 2010
Press Freedom and the ANC
It took a long, hard walk to freedom to end Apartheid in South Africa in 1994. During Apartheid, people of non-white origin were humiliated and oppressed by a delusional minority party that managed to cling to power for about 46 years too long.
After years of struggle and movements for liberation, Apartheid was finally overthrown, and South Africa could not, for the most part, be happier. Our future looked bright, and our leadership party was young, vibrant, energetic and revolutionary. I assume (being barely older than sixteen myself) that many South Africans felt that they could once again, or maybe even for the first time, feel hopeful, and dream, for their future and the futures of their children.
The ANC, the party instrumental to the attainment of freedom for all races, has now been in power for 16 years. It has been a short while, many say. We cannot expect change too quickly. My complaint is not, however, with poor service delivery or government corruption. It is not with police brutality. I have many more words for that.
Today, I need to ask a very important question of the ANC. Please, look into your past, look at your faded ideals and vision. Look at the role the press has played during your birth, your infancy, your learning to walk, and talk, and fight. Yes, the print media have been abused by all systems of government. In many instances it was used to justify Apartheid and the cruel treatment of the masses at the hands of the NP. But didn't the press play an incredible role in guiding you to the fulfillment of your goals as revolutionary party? International sanctions and pressure were placed on the NP because of one thing - the media. News, news, news.
Maybe you are so used to being a revolutionary party that you haven't realised that the struggle is over. Why do you bare your teeth so viciously, why do your hackles raise so menacingly, why does the hair on your back stand up as if you are being attacked when you are being fairly questioned and criticised? Criticism and interrogation, uncovering the truth, the lack of political affiliation... this has always been something I have been proud of South Africa for. Our press has never backed down from justifiably evaluating your leadership skills as a governing party. This, this, this, this, this... This is the sign of a healthy press, a healthy democracy, and healthy governance of a country.
Every piece of criticism and every question is not a sign of an attack on our 'brittle' democracy. Our democracy is - or was, if your new laws are passed - not frail or weak. A free press is a sign of a healthy, breathing, lively democracy. Don't kill that.
It seems it happens too easily that a once revolutionary party never gives up fighting, and fights and fights and fights and fights , until it has killed itself in the process. Do not become everything you have been born to overcome. You have a massive utility truck of weapons at your disposal, but you don't seem to have found peace a very useful one as yet. Anger, deception, corruption, violence, allegations, misinformation and childish shouting matches have their time and place. It is not here, and it is not now.
There is a time to break down, and a time to build up.