Just 18 months later, despite its pivotal role in the defeat of state capture, the South African press is embattled. Revenues continue to dwindle, and retrenchments have hit newsrooms hard, notably at the Independent group and Tiso Blackstar.
To make matters worse, the fourth estate finds itself bludgeoned with lies and threats. The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), who had previously opposed the Zuma-Gupta cabal, have launched a crude disinformation campaign against a list of journalists it calls the Ramaphosa Defence Force (RDF).This is a strategy of diversionary retaliation.
It was employed after press investigations implicated EFF leaders Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu in the VBS Mutual bank heist. (The fact that ANC officials in Limpopo were enablers of much of the R1.8-billion theft has not received much coverage.
This is because the party’s appetite for criminality has become commonplace and because EFF hypocrisy — it has defined itself as a righteous scourge of corrupt politicians — is more newsworthy.)The Mail & Guardian’s Thanduxolo Jika is not surprised by the EFF’s adventures in fake news. “I find it appallingly hypocritical that they are attacking journalists’ integrity — particularly the narrative they present that we are instruments of ‘white monopoly capital’, which doesn’t want black people to prosper — when, in fact, the EFF has helped to exploit poor black people in the VBS case.
“But it’s nothing new,” he said.