Phumzile van Damme compares Julius Malema to Trump: 'Trumpesque narrative leads to violent attacks'

26 November 2020 - 12:00
By unathi nkanjeni AND Unathi Nkanjeni
The DA's Phumzile van Damme has likened EFF leader Julius Malema's views on mainstream media to those of US President Donald Trump.
Image: Esa Alexander The DA's Phumzile van Damme has likened EFF leader Julius Malema's views on mainstream media to those of US President Donald Trump.

The DA’s Phumzile van Damme has compared EFF leader Julius Malema to US President Donald Trump, after his accusations that mainstream media was “protecting” President Cyril Ramaphosa.

This week, the EFF shared a video of Malema addressing the media, where he can be heard saying that some journalists were not reporting fairly on issues that could cost the country.

He said some journalists and media houses were protecting Ramaphosa and making him “to be above the law”.

The video was shared after the names of certain journalists were linked to the controversial Thuma Mina media WhatsApp group, a group the EFF said was part of a “cabal” that openly supported Ramaphosa.

The SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) dismissed the claims, saying there was a “disinformation campaign on social media, seeking to link senior journalists, including Sanef members, to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s 'Thuma Mina' campaign”.

On Twitter, Van Damme red-flagged Malema's statement.

“Another dangerous Trumpesque narrative: 'the media is the enemy'. In the US, it has led to Trump supporters sometimes violently attacking journalists,” said Van Damme.

In a statement, Van Damme condemned the use of the word “enemies” when characterising SA's media.

“Such language is dangerous and could result in further physical violence against members of the media, as we have already witnessed in our country by supporters of some political parties whose leaders have expressed such sentiments,” she said.

“We stand firmly behind the constitutional right to freedom of the media against any characterisation as 'enemies'. The 'fourth estate', as the media is known, plays an important role in our democracy in holding government accountable, and keeping the public informed.”

Van Damme said distortion of news from certain media houses, and comments that arise as a result, should be no reason to threaten journalists.

Despite the failings of  some media houses, the media have played a key role in exposing corruption, which has played a crucial role in seeking to establish a culture of accountability in our country.

“We would like to repeat that the recourse for what may be coverage deemed unfair is at first instance to raise it with the publication. Should agreement not be reached, recourse exists in terms of the Press Ombudsman and the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA,” said Van Damme.