Editor

Why I agree with Eric Miyeni

In Media, Politics, Society on August 6, 2011 at 9:10 PM

Yep, you heard me right. And yes I have read and re-read and agree with what the now sacked Sowetan newspaper columnist Eric Miyeni wrote on Monday this week. But just some of it.

But I guess you would have to read the rest of this article – and not just the title thereof and jump to conclusions without having read the rest of it and start to throw vile comments like many readers are used to doing or have developed that tendency especially here on the internet – to understand what it is that Miyeni and I agree on.

Miyeni finds himself in hot water again. But don’t most Avusa media columnists?

Some time back Miyeni had attacked Lebo Mashile in one of his columns that ““under all those layers of fat that she now carries, Lebo Mashile is one of the most beautiful women I have ever met”. This of course did not go down well with Mashile who last week Monday said Miyeni had “dissed me” and that “now people mention my name to support the idea that he’s been vomitting (sic) people for ages”. Mashile said: “remember when I was on the receiving en fog eric’s venom and THIS very same platform [Twitter?] was full of people who agreed with him”.

Mashile described Miyeni as a “bitter misogynist” and “clearly a masochist”, that he “has problems with successful people… especially when they have breasts”. By “successfully people” Mashile is referring to City Press editor Ferial Haffajee who was last week Monday apparently attacked by Miyeni after her newspaper made some shocking revelations about ANCYL President Julius “Juju” Malema’s Ratanang Family Trusted named after his son. City Press had made headlines with Malema’s Secret Fund, Source confirms existence of Jujus family trust and its modus operandi, Juju fails to gag City Press, Juju’s farm plot under land claim and the latest, last week Sunday, being a Mister Ca$h report.

Miyeni said Haffajee would “probably have had a burning tyre around her neck” if her newspaper had written what it had written about Malema. The comments were seen as an attack on Haffajee and the newspaper’s questionable investigations on Juju for which he said he had difficulty in believing that this “utter hatred for the ANC politicians is based on journalistic integrity” and was therefore “more inclined to think that the people like Haffajee… are most likely to be the kind that wakes up in the morning, sees their black faces in the mirror only to feel a wave of self-hatred rising up to nauseate them”.

Miyeni questioned the identity of the businessman who had told City Press that many politicians and business people were depositing money into Juju’s trust fund which was, as a result, was used to fund his lifestyle that many have now come to question because his reported monthly income of R50 000 from the ANC is said to be not enough to afford his expensive lifestyle. He even asked which tenders the businessman (known to City Press) was referring to. 

Trending and Facebooking away…

And as with most things, Miyeni was even trending on Twitter but I suspected this had since led his creating @EricMiyeni account on Monday afternoon. There were, of course, those who were critical and sympathetic to Haffajee and her newspaper.

One tweeter criticised Haffajee that “journos like @ferialhaffajee have nevr authorised a frontpage headline that will discredit or drag down any well know(n) or unknown white person”. A well-known freelancer for a number of South African print and online publications called Miyeni “misogynist”, saying his “statements about necklacing is dangerous” that “the rest [of it] borders on hate speech”. The freelancer said Miyeni was also a “bully, who thinks his invective will silence those he [Miyeni] targets”. She went on to say Sowetan should “explain” itself to South African National Editors’ Forum and that “there is something wrong at Avusa titles”.

Avusa Media is publisher of Sowetan and many other newspapers, including Sunday Times, etc. I do not agree with her point, or lack thereof, that Sowetan should “explain” itself to Sanef. I mean since when does a newspaper (or is it because it’s Miyeni?) account to Sanef for publishing columns like Miyeni’s?

If so, did Sunday Times ever explain why it sacked David Bullard to Sanef? Did Sunday Sun at any stage explain its homophobic column by Jon Qwelane to Sanef? Did Sunday World explain Kuli Roberts’ column about coloured people to Sanef? Then why the heck should Sowetan, for God sake, about Miyeni? Mind you all these mentioned newspapers are titles of Avusa Media which I have now realised has a tendency – allowed of course by now its editor-in-chief and former Sunday Times editor Mondli Makhanya who himself sacked Bullard – of sacking columnists for columns which would only later be found to have “crossed then line”. What the hack is that?

Miyeni was accused by another Facebooker as a “blatant racist who’s being entertained by white women in particular and white society in general”. The writer said Miyeni’s white women (girlfriends maybe?) “probably like to hear racist abuse thrown at them” and suggested that Haffajee “institute legal proceedings [criminal and civil claims]”. One broadcast journalist went on to call Miyeni “unbelievable” while another said “for once I grudgingly admit that I agree with Eric Myeni(sic): re Ferial Haffejee (sic) persuit (sic) of uncovering black corruption with more fervor and conviction than white corruption”. “I thought us journalists were supposed to be ‘objective”, she said, “but clearly that only applies to Journ 101 lectures”. “… let’s see what she has to say in defence of why she hasn’t and possibly could never uncover any DA [official opposition party Democratic Alliance] and private sector corruption…” said the broadcaster journo.

The broadcaster said Haffajee “chases the ANC more because she expects better, and she’s okay with white corruption continuing because of the apartheid legacy kinked to it?” Even one of Avusa titles journo found Miyeni’s column as “shocking”, that “probably (having) a burning tyre around her [Haffajee’s]” neck” was “to incite violence”. Well, probably…

Business Day Editor, Peter Bruce said on Twitter that: “You’re entitled to expect some common sense from columnists. If it (is) clear they’ve no respect for the real estate you supply they have to go”. Bruce said he “read all this criticism of editors not spotting venal columns & thinks ‘there but for the grace of god go’. I think it’s better to fire”.

This was followed by blogger and columnist Khaya Dlanga on Twitter that he does not think Haffajee should sue “because she becomes the story”? He later wrote in his News24 column that maybe people misunderstood Miyeni, that “it’s hard being black” and he “understand(s) where Eric is coming from”. Dlanga said being black “it’s not something that people who are not of colour can understand”. “This is not to say that white people are unable to empathise. There are many things that people who are not of colour cannot relate to. The moment, for example, you set your foot somewhere in business, your ability is already being doubted. Unless of course it’s singing. Or some sort of sport but swimming”, he said.

Dlanga implied that maybe Miyeni wrote what he did because “sometimes when we [black] are overlooked, as if we don’t matter in meetings, it makes us angry”. “It irritates us, or it drives us out of the businesses we work in. No one can understand where Eric Miyeni’s anger is coming from. It comes from something that many people feel.

Autonomous ANCYL appreciates

It was of course expected that the ANCYL would have a say in the issue. This because in his column Miyeni was understood as defending the ruling party, African National Congress and its leaders. And without wanting to be left behind on the issue the league through its Twitter handle @ancylhq said that it “appreciates that ultimately someone had the courage to tell some journalists where to get off, and we are grateful”. The league said on Twitter that it agreed with Miyeni’s column and that he “should never be intimidated, nor demoralised by media commentators and mobs of reactionary media”. In a statement released later, the league applauded Miyeni for exposing the “ill-practices of the journalists he wrote about”. It said although media commentators may try to demoralise and “rubbish his thoughts”, Miyeni should remain a “fearless activists who speaks his mind not fall into the trap of those who blindly support the interests of apartheid beneficiaries”.

The league condemned Sowetan’s “disgusting decision” to terminate (or in Makhanya et al lingo, “discontinue”) Miyeni’s column for “speaking his mind openly and frankly”. “Sowetan, like all the reactionary newspapers is showing a level of inconsistency on their application of freedom of speech as enshrined in the Constitution. The decision to terminate Eric Miyeni’s contract is clearly not an independent decision, but influenced by the right-wing elements who determine the direction of the Sowetan”, said the league.

The league criticised the newspaper for publishing the article if it found it “inappropriate” and asked why the newspaper did not terminate columns of “anti-ANC, racist, and narrow analysts” when the ruling party leaders asked it to. It planned to ask the newspaper in a meeting on who actually terminated the column and “get an explanation on their application of principles, because they are simply out of line and abominable”.

Sacking columnists at tendency at Avusa,

Speaking of Makhanya and Avusa – it is not the first time, dear readers, that Avusa has fired a columnist for what it believed had crossed the line. Like many other Avusa Media newspaper-sacked-columnists – it was within in the same day, Monday, that Miyeni’s column was discontinued. And it is firing of columnists by Makhanya and of course his bosses at Avusa Media which I have dealt with in one of my blog posts as being inconsistent.

When he decided to sack Bullard for his racist column Makhanya sworn to us that the column, which I expected him to have checked but had failed as editor at the time that it, “should never have been published in the first place” and that “our systems failed us badly”. He said he would not make any “excuses for the mess and I will not blame anyone else for that system failure. I am the editor of this newspaper and take full responsibility for having allowed the poison to pollute the pages of the Sunday Times”.

And despite having undertaken “full responsibility” for letting Bullard’s column to print without having checked it as was expected of him, Makhanya never got sacked by his bosses for that lack of responsibility. Never! Instead, he showed Bullard the door and while he got even kicked to the top, a position he now occupies. Bloody agents indeed!

So in trying to justify sacking Bullard, Makhanya claimed Avusa had at the time “begun a process of assessing our internal systems and how to tighten them without compromising the right of columnists to speak their minds” and that the “right to free speech is something everyone on this newspaper holds dear”. “We hold diverse views on different issues and would lay down our lives in defence of everyone’s right to express themselves. Our pages are testament to that”, he said. However, and as we may all know, this assessment and tightening of Avusa’s internal process was bull given the number of columnists that have since been redeployed elsewhere or fired by the media company. A few years after Makhanya said this we saw how Roberts was sacked by Avusa. Or was her column just discontinued as with many others before her? This is even made worse by Makhanya’s undertaking at the time that Avusa would “lay down” its lives, if it had any, “in defence of everyone’s right to express themselves”. This was all a life.

And a further claim by Makhanya that Avusa publications were a “testament to” defending people’s “right to express themselves” is also not true. He went to great lengths in defending Avusa saying it was “not in the business of promoting prejudice”, and that a “relationship of an editor to a columnist is a special one”.

According to Makhanya, the “onus” is on the columnist “to treat the space with responsibility and not abuse that freedom from interference”. And it was the very same “freedom of expression” which he said Bullard had “espoused” with “views that were contrary to the views of the newspaper and did so without any hindrance from me or my predecessors” and “made people angry and he made them laugh” that cost him his column. Sunday World editor Wally Mbhele, too, when sacking Roberts, said her column had “derogatory generalisations about Coloured people which were in clear violation of the South African Press Code and Avusa Media’s internal codes”. I guess this was when both columnists’ “crossed the line”. Isn’t it?

Makhanya said in discontinuing Roberts’ column that Avusa wanted to “disseminate prejudicial commentary that re-enforces divisions and entrenches racial stereotypes”. In a joint statement Makhanya with Sowetan acting editor, Len Maseko, the pair said “Miyeni expressed robust views shared by many South Africans”. But why the hell discontinued the column if that is the case? Well, the answer is simple: you fire the tjatjarag columnist like it has been made a trend in Avusa Media with others who have “expressed robust views shared by many South Africans”. Or could it be and as we may all know by now that Miyeni’s column – like that of Bullard, Roberts, Qwelane – was discontinued because of pressure from the media industry players and not actually from politicians nor the society in general because I do not think or even believe for a second that any of the latter groups would have supported the discontinuation of Miyeni’s column?

My guess is: yes, media players and insiders may have played a role in seeing that Miyeni’s Monday column in the Sowetan never sees light of every Monday onwards. Both Makhanya and Maseko – just like the lot Avusa Media newspaper editors have done and or are used to doing with their sacked/fired columnists – said Miyeni had “crossed the line between robust debate and the condonation of violent”.

On Radion2000 on Monday last week Miyeni said he was shocked (see also here) at the reaction to his column. Maybe the poor guy should have expected it considering that he was seen as attacking a newspaper editor, a “respected” one nogal. Miyeni said that “when black people make money it is assumed they must have done something illegal unless assumed otherwise”. He admitted to having asked Haffajee for a job which he said she somewhat refused and said she told him that she would have to read every copy of his column before going to print and who wouldn’t agree. Of course he said that’s fine with him, but it seems Haffajee was joking. She would not hire him if she so intended suing him like that, would she?

South African Editors’ Forum, chaired by Makhanya, also came out with gun blazing, describing Miyeni’s column as having crossed the line especially the part where he [Miyeni] likened Haffajee as “black snake in the grass” and that she “probably have had a burning tyre around her neck” in the 80s.

I was quite disappointed that it took Sowetan more than full three days to apologise to Haffajee as it was quite clear that it somehow had to apologise since Miyeni had no intention of doing so. The newspaper had to apologise not only to cover its back (if it will still have any left after its publication of the column), or that the column was seen as inciting violence as many have claimed  but that its reputation for publishing the said article was at stake. But more than anything else I suspect the apology had to happen because one of its own – an editor of another newspaper, by another publisher, Media24 – was believed to have been insulted.

And thinking that I would see an editorial on the Sowetan apologising to Haffajee, I saw nothing else expect a statement headlined “Upheaval at Sowetan – Editor goes over Miyeni row” announcing editorial changes on the newspaper. The announcement was that Maseko – who was on leave at the time the said column was published and yet she admitted full responsibility – had stepped down and been replaced by now former Daily Dispatch editor, Mpumelelo Mkhabela, who will also be replaced by Brendan Boyle, now former Parliamentary Bureau Chief of Avusa Media. Following editorial changes at the Sowetan, it was only on Thursday – three days after the so-called racist column by Miyeni had been published that Makhanya and Justice Malala officially apologised “unreservedly” with a “Sorry, Ferial and all” article for the “deep hurt” caused not only to Haffajee but to the wider South African public.

The pair tried very hard to give us a brief history of the newspaper in their “unreserved” apology and make-up PR on what the newspaper believed, saying what “an institution” Sowetan was that had “built itself up through the decades as a voice for the voiceless and a fearless, reliable friend of the poor and oppressed” and that it was “founded on the values of ubuntu-botho (humanity, humaneness)”. Malala and Makhanya promised from now onwards to “implementing measures to ensure that this does not happen again” and that they “have instituted disciplinary proceedings against those who allowed the column to appear in the form that it did” and I damn well hope they get to the bottom of this and heads roll and that no wrong heads roll. Of course we know by “this” the pair is referring to Miyeni’s column which they said had “crossed the line between robust debate and the condonation of violence”.

Although indirectly, but Pierre De Vos agreed in his Constitutionally Speaking blog that: “Miyeni’s rant is not only hateful and vile, but also illogical — even on its own terms”.

De Vos criticised Miyeni – like almost everyone else, except a few us who somewhat agreed with him (more on that later) – saying his comments were “ no more than a defence of a small group of well-connected tenderpreneurs who have the money and the connections to bribe politicians in order to get tenders”. Well, I don’t know about that, but…

Anton Harber also told The Daily Maverick last week that Miyeni’s column was “completely out of order”, that it was “hate speech”. Harber said the necklacing part of the column “was a fatwa-like threat” which “stifles debate and discussion, and is not in any way acceptable”. He said he supported Miyeni’s “right to question, and even to be rude or obnoxious”, he, however, thought he might have gone overboard as the necklacing metaphor was “anti-freedom of speech because it threatens Ferial for her opinion”, that “you can’t raise the threat of physical violence because you don’t agree with someone”. But Harber also seemed to blame Avusa for this mess, saying: “we are sitting with a situation where collectively journalists are being accused of irresponsibility, and if the editor of Sowetan isn’t accountable, it fuels this argument.” He said Sowetan had “become increasingly tabloid as it has come under pressure from the Daily Sun”.

“For me when Aggrey Klaaste was editor of the newspaper”, Harber told The Daily Maverick, “I knew what it stood for”. “It had a character and a viewpoint. If you ask me what Sowetan stands for today, I wouldn’t be able to tell you”. Harber said “charges of sensationalism often levelled against Sowetan are true. The rise and rise of local tabloids have made the paper’s life hard, but they have largely responded by resorting to sensationalism”.

Media Monitoring African said last week that the decision to publish Miyeni’s column “not only perpetuated racial stereotypes but was also potentially defamatory and offensive needs to be questioned”. It criticised Sowetan or whoever at the paper decided to publish the column, saying “such a piece should not have passed through editorial scrutiny especially given that on the surface, it appears to violate Avusa’s own editorial policies as well as the South African Press Code”. The body called Avusa to “explain how they intend to hold those responsible, accountable for the piece being published”.

MMA did not leave Miyeni and the ANCYL alone, saying: “what is of extreme concern to MMA is the manner in which Mr Miyeni responded to media coverage of Mr Malema”. It said the league’s response was also worrying. To MMA, Avusa appears “keen on entrenching a reputation of publishing racist pieces and then discontinuing the columns shortly afterwards”.

As mentioned before, MMA criticised the media group saying: “each time readers have been assured that processes have been tightened and apologies proffered, lets (sic) hope that it is third time lucky for change and that those responsible will be held accountable”.

MMA said if Sowetan and Avusa failed to “inform their readers of the planned action and to explain how this could have happened” – citing its edition of August 2 last year as an example – it would be left with no choice but to lay a complaint with the Press Council.

A ‘black snake’ with integrity to see you in Court not side by side

I doubt there is anyone who would agree that a snake has any integrity at all. But as we all know, Miyeni was not saying Haffajee is a real snake but only seemed to have likened her to a “black snake in the grass, deployed by white capital to sow discord among blacks” – metaphorically, as he’s always claimed since publication of the article in question.

Haffejee told Mail & Guardian Online last week that she would sue Miyeni but seemed to have changed her mind on Saturday, saying she would either approach the South African Human Rights Commission or Thuli Madonsela’s Public Protector. Haffajee told City Press Online on Saturday that “the South African way is to accept an apology”. She said Sowetan’s apology was “fulsome” and it would therefore be “childish” for her to file a lawsuit and was quite glad that Miyeni was “out of work” as a columnist.

It was also quite surprising – given the noise and the effect the column has had in South Africa – to see Miyeni changing his mind about Haffajee, calling her not only a woman, but an woman editor with “the most integrity” who “stands by her facts, as compared to the Avusa editors”. Miyeni told Mail & Guardian Online on Saturday that Haffajee had contacted him two days previously, sounding “very professional” and asked him if they could write “side by side” for the City Press edition the following day, Sunday.

He was of course not sure what Haffajee was going to write but suspected it “would be about the same”, black snake in the grass, that is. It is still also not clear who had Haffajee change her mind because earlier in the week she was quite certain about the lawsuit, saying there were “many elements” of Miyeni’s column that “are hate speech and are racists”, that she was not going to ignore them for if she did it would sully “our public space and harms non-racialism”. “So I am going to sue him”, she told M&G Online last week Monday. I personally doubt if Madonsela has jurisdiction over the matter, but at least HRC does.

Not once last week had Haffajee shown any intention and confidence in the Press Ombudsman by saying she would lay a complaint against Sowetan as publisher of the column. Is this a sign that even journalists themselves do not believe in self-regulations?

Or she intended not going to the press ombudsman about the column for it [Press Ombudsman] also did not have jurisdiction over the matter as it might have been hate speech? Well, I suspect the latter…

Where Miyeni and I agree

As said before there were some anti-woman, racist and tenderpreneurship defence elements in his column and it is these elements that may have overshadowed what he was actually trying to communicate in his column which I think he had done so in a bad way. By this I mean Miyeni could have said what he did differently, but he didn’t. Or rather, he failed to find the not-offensive way of doing it. And here’s where he I and I agree.

Firstly, it is “probably” true that given the hostile environment under which journalists operated during the 80s – whereby freedom of the media and speech was under constant threat from the apartheid government and given reports like those of City Press or any other newspaper for that matter – something terrible might have happened to not only the journalists that wrote such stories but probably its editor(s) too, Haffajee, in this case.

For example, incidents happening the neighbouring countries likeSwazilandandZimbabweare a clear example of what happens when the media through its (sometimes questionable methods of) investigations reveal corruptions especially where politicians, high profile individuals and business are involved.

Secondly, of course we all know the ANC is a ruling party and therefore a ruling government (according to how South Africans choose to vote and elect its leaders). Therefore one is likely to find that where there are reports of corruption in government where ANC members and leaders, government officials are often the suspects. This, we have witnessed in previous examples like the Armsdeal saga, Travelgate, Oilgate, Lease rental saga, and many examples.

And it is often newspaper reports through its investigations that many a times bring these cases/revelations to light. Without investigative journalism such as those – and not News of The World kind of journalism – we would have had no way of knowing what had happened or been done by who, where, where, how in as far as corrupt politicians are concerned. And because of this it is well known that some ruling party members are seen as corrupt and continue to be investigated and found (sometime not found) guilty of such criminal activities.

It is therefore these revelations about or against politicians to which Miyeni refers to when he speaks of “utter hatred of ANC politicians”.

Like Miyeni, Dlanga said he, too, just like me, gets “a bit upset when he I see yet another black person being accused of corruption, incompetency or some other crime” although he admits that it is “natural to feel upset”. He mentions that he was quite relieved when he found out that Lolly Jackson was not murdered by black people because “we don’t want more bad black news”. It is this “bad black news” that may have driven Miyeni to write that column.

It’s a possibility. This is a similar point Miyeni raised in this column in question to which Dlanga said “Eric does have a point on the DA though. Not enough is reported about it. It is as if the party does no wrong. Or is the DA so boring that there is nothing to read about it?”

Thirdly. Yes, what the hell is wrong with having a trust fund which may, if they so wish without being forced to, be “funded by businesspeople and that these businesspeople made their fortunes through government tenders?

Surely there’s nothing wrong with that unless of course one can prove – but only through evidence submitted to a Court of law – that there was some kind of a “corrupt relationship” between the funder and the fundee. And until such time every alleged corrupt individual is innocent until proven guilty by a country of law, and certainly not through a court of public opinion or through investigative journalism. And even if it is through investigative journalism and that there is compelling evidence of any corruption whatsoever, such, in principle, I believe, MUST be submitted to the relevant authorities for further investigation and be checked if there are any grounds for prosecution. This of course despite challenges faced by our law enforcement agencies themselves.

Fourthly, there is a tendency in South African by people of all races, the media included, to always equate a black person’s wealth to having been accumulated through corrupt activities. This results in people like Miyeni saying that this, to them, is a clear indication that white South African businesses lock black people out because their [some black people’s] “only real sources of business” is government (tenders, if you are luck to get one). As a result, those who make money through tenders are seen as corrupt, and many of whom are of course black people, and therefore black people equal corrupt.

But of course we all know that there are those white and black people who are in tendering businesses and have earned their cash and worked hard for it. Because of these tenderpreneurs, it is therefore difficult for many people in this country – and I am not talking about the Motsepes of this country or unless through corruption, which is also not advisable – it is not easy to get “private funding to function”. This is the issue Miyeni raised which is ignored or that which has been overshadowed by race issue. So where should black people (not necessarily all black politicians as Miyeni may have alluded to) get financial support if not from those who have benefited through tenders fairly and transparently?

And lastly, Trusts are means to create wealth, and yes, they “are legal entities”. And if you’ve got money or know how you are going to get or make money to maintain those trusts – then set up one for yourself. Who cares how you use it and for what purpose? It’s yours mos. And whether you have politicians and or business people who have decided to donate to you, it is up to you how you use those funds and the rest of the beneficiaries. People seem to have a problem that a trust was sent up and that there was money deposited into it. Why? If so, then why not go and report those who have made those allegations to the cops for further investigations? Why does the media protect criminal sources by the way?

Juju does not own any of us an explanation yet and many seem to insinuate that he does on how he uses his funds. Well, that’s bull. This is mainly because we are not beneficiaries to it in the first place.  Just how many white people who were beneficiaries of billions and millions of rand from the regime rule have set up trusts and are now living off those trusts and have never been questioned by any newspaper to date in South African? None, I tell you.

And like Miyeni said “Mandela has trusts in his name, but because (some black and) white people put money in them there are no Haffajee complaints”. And by this I am not implying Juju is wrong or not because I have yet to see the said newspaper saying it had laid corruption charges against him given the evidence in its possession and that it has handed over the self-confessed criminal who claimed to have deposited about R200 000 into Juju’s trust to the cops. And this mentality of black wealth having been earned through corruption perpetuates and makes people like Miyeni and many others who agree with him that it is only “white fortune (that) is legitimately earned until proven otherwise” and that we should all be fine with that and sommer accept it. Why?

In one of my columns “Why we (still) need Bullard and Qwelane and NOW Miyeni as writers” – I quoted News Time editor and criminal attorney Michael Trapido who wrote in 2009 that if he were to start a web site he would hire Bullard (which he had) and Qwelane (which he has not to date) because they were “extremely controversial and create a buzz wherever they write”.

This, wrote Trapido, was “good for you lot because it breaks through the apathy and gets you thinking and is great for the industry in terms of building interest”. Trapido said he would hire Qwelane because he would offer him a “backhand if he ever writes homophobic garbage on site”. He believed his “constant struggle to achieve equality for the gay and lesbian community on this site will ensure that nobody is under any misapprehension that I condone that bullshit”. According to Trapido, Bullard and Qwelane are many of the “wonderful and colourful characters who need to be cherished for the way in which they brighten up our lives, get us thinking and stir up a bit of controversy”. So add Roberts and now Miyeni to that list of columnists whose views – like those of whether Gareth Cliff should have been fired by his employer over the late Manto Tshabalala-Msimang comments – “brighten up our lives, get us thinking and stir up a bit of controversy”.

On whether Roberts should have been fired (or is it redeployed elsewhere in the company?) – Trapido said he “personally” wouldn’t have sacked Roberts and neither would Haffajee, who described the column as “shocking stereotype and [a] vicious racism” but that two apologies would have done it for him.

In one of my blog analysis “Did Avusa and Sunday World ‘raise controversy without thought for the consequences’ with Roberts’ column?” – also I quoted Dianne Bayley, who after the Bullard and Qwelane saga, asked: Who is ultimately responsible for what goes into a publication?”

Bayley said in “those days” sub-editors were there to ensure stories were factual and publications couldn’t get sued for their content. She also said “cost cutting may have put paid to the sub-editor’s position, deeming them an unnecessary expense when you have an editor”. Bayley said if editors now allow content that incites hatred, shouldn’t he or she take responsibility? “What about the publishing company?” asked Bayley.

Whichever way one looks at it, yes, “the buck has to stop somewhere”. So, maybe, just maybe, Miyeni should apologise one or two parts of his comments [if he really has to] but not for the rest of the column and should not feel sorry about it because what he said was not stated as facts as many people seemed to think he did. But that his column had to be discontinued, like Dlanga and most people on Twitter have said, I do not think it should have been scrapped because his views, however offensive, “need to be cherished for the way in which they brighten up our lives, get us thinking and stir up a bit of controversy”.

  1. [...] here for the full article by Avusa Media Pubic Editor, Joe Latakgomo. And you cal also click here and read Why I agree with Miyeni, partly.  Share [...]

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