Former South African Reserve Bank Governor, Tito Mboweni – who signs off most of his tweets at @tito_mboweni as “Gov” (for Governor, I think) – has been his unusual self of late, throwing criticism on Twitter and on newspaper articles. What’s up Gov?
On 24 March Gov asked on Twitter: “How do journalists see the world? Don’t tell me about “objective” reporting. You guys have a world view. Are you the Pope??” This was followed by another tweet on 28 March that: “I am getting frustrated with how some in the media report about the ANC. Deep-seated hatred and prejudice is what I see here. Undertones!!” The latter tweet appears to be a response to a Mail & Guardian report on same day where the good Gov Mboweni was merely expressing was what he called “Intellectual Independence” which, according to him, means “to express your well-thought out, researched and sober views without fear, favor or prejudice.”
In his intellectually independent response to the report, the Gov Mboweni said he had “observed over the past few years how [M&G had] positioned itself against the ANC.” He reminded the publication of how it was started and how it survived during the struggle, saying: “This is not your M&G alone. It is also our M&G, we who bear the blanket status of corrupt, immoral megalomaniacs by virtue of our political affiliation.”
In another tweet, the good Gov Mboweni said: “Friends. I should have explained this from the start. I joined the ANC at age 21, in 1980. So I am biased but intellectually Independent.” He spoke of how they “stood in the cold and unforgiving weather in England in the 1980s demonstrating in solidarity with the Weekly Mail, as it was then” and how “they “mobilised solidarity funds for it”. Now for M&G “to degenerate into an uncritical machine dedicated to opposing the ANC at all costs is not acceptable”, said Gov. This, he said, because the newspaper has adopted an editorial framework “[that] gives credibility to those who are calling for a media appeals tribunal.”
As noted on Facebook over his comments at the time, I found Gov Mboweni’s response quite bitter than ANC General Secretary, Gwede Mantashe’s response to the M&G report, who only said, among others, that: “We urge your journalists to seek balance and to interact with us, which is something we appreciate doing. Such an honest relationship, with neither participant being a mouthpiece of the other, is beneficial to both the ANC and the M&G, and it would fairly inform the public.” Whatever we think of the former Gov Mboweni “as one of the so-called educated Africans” – he is determined to “no longer stand by as people insult Africans day in and day out. My people deserve better”.
Is Gov Mboweni bitter or just practicing his intellectual independence?