IT seems the suspended editor of The Citizen, Steve Motale poked someone's nose.
This follows a series of investigations he unleashed at the daily newspaper, to such an extent his bosses decided to suspend him. Prior to that it is alleged he was offered a golden handshake to leave quietly but he flatly refused.
Motale, was suspended after a damning investigation about former finance minister Trevor Manuel, current finance minister Pravin Gordhan and ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu was published in the paper a few weeks ago, according to Forum of Journalists for Transformation.
During this period, The Citizen ran a series about a Hawks probe into Manuel for his alleged role into the irregular awarding of SARS tenders and reportedly responded in unbecoming manner to the journalists who called him. Manuel allegedly approved a contract on modernisation at SARS worth R100 million, currently standing at R1 billion, without following due process.
It appears that Motale has been accused of having a personal vendetta against Manuel, and of running a campaign against him.
These allegations are unfounded considering that it is the duty of all newspapers in South Africa to publish stories reflecting all spheres of our democracy and to enquire without fear, favour of social standing.
Another factor, it appears, that led to his sacking was affording SABC boss, Hlaudi Motsoeneng a platform to share his side of the story when the latter was facing heavy criticism from Mthembu and other ANC leaders. We understand that one of the executive directors at Caxton instructed a publisher to fire him ostensibly for violating Caxton’s code of conduct.
The FJT further understands that the same executive director, then instructed the publisher to offer Motale a golden handshake to leave because his “services were no longer needed”. An undisclosed monetary offer was then made to Motale on condition he walked away silently. Motale refused this offer and its condition, saying he could not be bought to keep quiet about these unsavoury developments.
A march was held yesterday, which is part of the FJT’s media transformation campaign, in support of suspended editor and other Caxton journalists who are victims of the company’s wanton exploitation, editorial interference, institutionalised racism and an anti-black corporate culture, among others.
The ruling party has also called action to be taken against Caxton.
In a press release, the ANC said:” It is with great concern and interest that the African National Congress has noted the suspension of Citizen Editor, Mr. Steve Motale and the resultant debate about the lack of transformation within the media with particular reference and emphasis on print media.
This is a historical debate, and one, which will be unresolved for as long as there are, within society and the media itself, defenders of a system that is untransformed in terms of ownership, control and management. This defence presents itself as upholding media freedom and freedom of speech whilst in reality masking the commitment to undermine the diversity of views and plurality of voices.
A largely untransformed media, as we have in South Africa, is an offensive against progressive values and ideas”.
Continued the release:” It is for this reason, amongst others, that the ANC noted in the 52nd National Conference that the “Press Ombudsman/ Press Council is not adequate to sufficiently protect the rights of the individual citizens, community and society as a whole”. Under the guise of freedom of speech, our media tramples on the constitutional rights of others and in itself begins to constitute the real threat to media freedom, diversity and democracy.
The African National Congress calls on Parliament to accelerate the implementation of the resolution for the establishment of a Media Appeal Tribunal.
It is starkly clear that the people of South Africa can no longer rely on the system of co-regulation of the media when even the South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) recognises and remains toothless to deal with the challenge – in their own words – that “editors must be afforded the independence to do their work without any interference or unnecessary, or undue pressure” as in the case of Steve Motale.”
A call has also been made to other media houses to refrain from harassing and victimizing their members who want to join their respective unions, and also put an end to editorial interference; racism; apply media freedom and freedom of speech; exploitation, harassment of journalists; racialised salary disparities; and an anti-black corporate culture.
Meanwhile, emerging black owned media houses future in SA seem bleak.
This is because most white owned advertising agencies still shun them business in terms of Ad placement.
The belief is that the four major industry owners/players have control or influence over such agencies.
But they’re not the only to blame, as Government itself, also drags its feet when coming to place advertising with some community or emerging independent media houses.