In writing this blog for the last almost-3 years I have tried to convey a little of what it’s like to live in the UAE, share with you some of the more interesting or offbeat stories and generally give you an unbiased viewpoint on my life in the desert. Where-ever possible I have stayed away from political or religious judgments, comments or opinions, as it has never been my intention to offend or upset anyone. However there is a small and interesting rebellion going on in Saudi Arabia at the moment that I feel I must share with you – in case it’s not made the news anywhere else – and furthermore give my support to. And this is not because it’s a religious or political thing, but rather a way of showing my solidarity with these women who are making a point about what isn’t working for them.
Today’s blog has nothing to do with Dubai, but is in fact about my home country, South Africa, and part of a blogging protest (#SpeakZA), so apologies but this is NB to me. Thank you, Catherine.
Last week, shocking revelations concerning the activities of the ANC Youth League spokesperson Nyiko Floyd Shivambu came to the fore. According to a letter published in various news outlets, a complaint was laid by 19 political journalists with the Secretary General of the ANC, against Shivambu. This complaint letter detailed attempts by Shivambu to leak a dossier to certain journalists, purporting to expose the money laundering practices of Dumisani Lubisi, a journalist at the City Press. The letter also detailed the intimidation that followed when these journalists refused to publish these revelations.
We condemn in the strongest possible terms the reprisals against journalists by Shivambu. His actions constitute a blatant attack on media freedom and a grave infringement on Constitutional rights. It is a disturbing step towards dictatorial rule in South Africa. We call on the ANC and the ANC Youth League to distance themselves from the actions of Shivambu. The media have, time and again, been a vital democratic safeguard by exposing the actions of individuals who have abused their positions of power for personal and political gain.
The press have played a vital role in the liberation struggle, operating under difficult and often dangerous conditions to document some of the most crucial moments in the struggle against apartheid. It is therefore distressing to note that certain people within the ruling party are willing to maliciously target journalists by invading their privacy and threatening their colleagues in a bid to silence them in their legitimate work.
We also note the breathtaking hubris displayed by Shivambu and the ANC Youth League President Julius Malema in their response to the letter of complaint. Shivambu and Malema clearly have no respect for the media and the rights afforded to the media by the Constitution of South Africa. Such a response serves only to reinforce the position that the motive for leaking the so-called dossier was not a legitimate concern, but a insolent effort to intimidate and bully a journalist who had exposed embarrassing information about the Youth League President.
We urge the ANC as a whole to reaffirm its commitment to media freedom and other Constitutional rights we enjoy as a country.