Saturday, June 22, 2024

We have to move on!

A renowned South African political leader, Steve Bantu Biko, once said a manner of one’s dying can be a politicizing thing.

He could easily have been talking about John Kalafatis who he had obviously never met.

A nonentity during his life, Mr. Kalafatis’ death has had an enormous impact on this country.

Latest developments should be dire enough to dictate to us as a nation to pause, reflect and think afresh just what it is that we want to become as a people.

It’s clear that by the time the fog clears, some careers will be lost, with some people most likely spending a good number of their lives behind bars if not paying the ultimate price.

Whatever happens we should not lose sight of the fact that we have come too far together as a nation to allow what we have built as a people over the years unravel before our very eyes.
It hits one between the eyes to imagine just how this country has lately ground to a complete halt.

It seems, other than the drama unfolding inside the ruling party, the only other thing that matters is the story of the late John Kalafatis.
Nobody seems to care about thousands of students who will not be going to school next summer.

Nobody seems to care any longer that our economy is still sliding away and away from the rails.

Mistakes have been made.
There is no question about it.

But still move on we have to.
The question then that begs answers is just what will it take to correct those mistakes so that they never happen again, get the country out of the gridlock and back moving again.
The private media has done a terrific job chronicling events surrounding the death not just of Kalafatis but also of a dozen others who died under similar circumstances.

In so doing, the media has no doubt rubbed some people the wrong way.
The tempo and frequency of attacks against the media have reached an unprecedented crescendo.
As things stand, we should brace for more.

In fact, attacks on the media will grow more vicious for as long as the ruling party is not at peace with itself.
For its part, the media should not complain and feel being singled out. It comes with the territory.

Government attacks on the media are an intrinsic part of every working democracy. Instead of whining, whinging, complaining and hating ourselves for it, we should be proud as a nation that small and fragile as we may be, at least we have a vibrant private sector media that is able to stand up and fulfill its public obligations when called to do so.

The same, unfortunately, cannot be said for the state owned media, which I am sorry to say has been found wanting in many respects ÔÇô from its coverage of the Kalafatis killing to its lopsided coverage of the ruling party’s warfare.
The reason why the public is slowly moving away from the state media is simply because the public is not stupid.
As they read between the lines they discern what a ruthless instrument of propaganda the state media has become.
This is one area that Government also has to address going forward.

Bringing back the credibility of the state media will be crucial to our process of healing, reconciliation and recovery.

The problem though is that instead of owning up to its flaws, our government instead elects to malign the private media’s intentions, treating and casting private media journalists as a group of buffoons that sit under a tree conspiring to instigate some kind of regime change.

How unfortunate!
To make matters worse, in their quest to endear themselves to the high-priests in government, some leading lawyers have maliciously gone out of their way to portray journalists as seeking more rights for themselves than the rest of society that they are a part of.

How silly!
My advice is that in all these attacks, the media should not be defensive for in doing so they will only be playing into the enemy’s hands.

The media should accept all criticism with all the honour, grace and courage they can muster.

It would be counter productive for the media to allow itself to be held hostage by the growing hostility from government.

Journalism has never been for the faint hearted.

It is a thankless craft that brings little if any material rewards other than public ridicule to those who choose it for a career.

As we wake up and dust ourselves, the media should strive to carve for itself a meaningful role under what is no doubt going to be harsher conditions.
But still we have to move on.


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