Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Should Press Boss fall on his sword?

Dear Mondli Mkhanya, off-the-ball, Editor-in-Chief of Avusa’s Newspapers,
        Oh no Mondli, one of your guys has done it again. Your Group (Sunday Times, Sowetan, Sunday World etc) can’t trust its columnists as far as it can fire them.
          Talk about dereliction of duty. Where are the editors when your papers get published? And what’s even more important, where have you been as the overall editorial boss for your entire Group?
          One after another we have had your columnists writing what you yourself considered to be unacceptable, racially charged statements that have outraged all and sundry. Nobody, least of all you or your Editors know what they are going to put into print next.
          And all this has happened on your watch.
          In 2008 you were the Editor of the Sunday Times when you fired David Bullard for insulting Blacks in his Out to Lunch column which he had been writing for years. You apologised saying, We were complicit in disseminating his Stone Age philosophies.
        You were subsequently promoted to your present position and low and behold the Stone Age philosophies kept being expounded by two different columnists who also got their marching orders.
          The first of these was Black, Kuli Roberts at the Sunday World who got stuck into South Africa’s Coloured population, most of whom live in the Western Cape, for all manner of sins from being very violent (as if Blacks are not) and breeding like rabbits.
          Did she take her queue from you, I have always wondered? I say this because shortly before her unacceptable piece your regular Sunday Times column was all about how Blacks were ostracised in the Western Cape. You proposed action, presumably by the Black Government, to solve this. The inference was that the Coloureds should be forced to change their attitude towards Blacks. 
When Kuli’s column, Bitches Brew was axed you came out with this pious statement, Avusa Media will not allow any of its titles to disseminate prejudicial commentary that reinforces divisions and entrenches racial stereotypes. It was a particular gem considering that you had previous allowed Bullard’s divisive, racial remarks to slip through.

          The most recent scandal involved Eric Miyeni. In the Sowetan, as you know, he slammed Ferial Haffajee, the Coloured editor of City Press, owned by your opposition, the predominately White, Naspers Group. He accused her of being a Black snake in the grass employed by White capitalists to sow discord among Blacks who would have had a burning tyre put round her neck in the 1980s.

         They are quite capably of organising their own discord if you ask me, without any help from Haffagee. But that’s another story.
         You continued to be unaware that Stone Age philosophies were still thriving right under your nose until they once again hit the fan.
Miyeni felt that his kind of racial slander was appropriate because the City Press had exposed Julius Malema, the Black  President of the Youth Wing of the ruling African National Congress and well known shit stirrer. The paper claimed that Malema, who professes to champion the plight of the poor, had a suspect trust to fund his lavish lifestyle.
          I see that after he was sacked Miyeni hit back by claiming you and your Editors were not doing their job by letting his kind of outbursts get into print and then firing the authors afterwards.
How right he is Mondli.
Your act of revenge was to make him the Mampara (fool) of the Week in the Sunday Times. But one has to ask, what does that make you?
         The acting editor of the Sowetan, Len Maseko must be commended for being extremely honourable by taking responsibility for Miyeni’s lapse and resigning. And what makes his decision even more honourable was that he was on leave when the column appeared.
          So don’t you think Mondli that you should follow his excellent example, especially as you didn’t have the I was on holiday excuse when this happen, not once, not twice, but three times while you were in charge.
        I know it’s not part of African culture, but do the right thing Mondli, fall on your sword.
          Always watchfully yours,
          Jon, the Poor Man’s Press Ombudsman. 

P.S. I’m a former Sunday Times columnist who wasn’t fired, but perhaps it will now be done retrospectively. 

Buy my book 'Wherer have all the children gone?' on Amazon.com  It's thriller with an underlying love story that defied generations of prejudice.

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