The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has called on South Africans to boycott TV news channel eNCA for its “racist treatment of African journalists.”
In a statement on Thursday, the party cited a tweet by Kanthan Pillay, a senior manager at eNCA, in which he wrote, “Rats swimming towards a sinking ship. #EarlyXmasGift.”
Pillay posted the tweet on Tuesday this week, the same day political reporter Samkele Maseko announced his sudden departure from eNCA. Pillay has since deactivated his Twitter account.
‘No one must call an African child a rat’
EFF believes the tweet was directed at Maseko. It said, “South Africans must unite in totality boycotting eNCA, both from watching it and attending to its news requests and events.
“No one must call an African child a rat in our country and it just becomes business as usual.”
EFF also claimed that another eNCA journalist, Khayelihle Khumalo, was suspended for tweeting about its 2nd National People’s Assembly (NPA) from his personal Twitter profile.
“The EFF condemns these actions as a sign of total deterioration of leadership, principles and ethics within the eNCA. In fact, when it comes to the EFF, the institution has become personal,” the party said.
‘Attempt to silence EFF’
EFF also claimed eNCA‘s decision to withdraw its coverage of the NPA, which it took in protest at EFF’s “ban” on Daily Maverick and amaBhungane, was an attempt to silence it.
It also criticised the South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) for its silence on the controversy.
EFF said, “Had it been a white journalist who was treated the same way Samkele Maseko and Khayelihle Khumalo testified, SANEF would be vocal and even calling on investigations.
“Their silence must be read as being complicit with racism and total disregard of journalistic ethics when it comes to African people.”
The controversy started when Maseko announced his abrupt exit from eNCA on Tuesday this week, saying he couldn’t serve the usual 30-day notice after his resignation “as per their request.”
However, in a series of tweets on Wednesday in response to Pillay’s “rats” tweet, Maseko claimed Pillay had thrown him out of eNCA building “like a dog” and had censored “political talk.”
He wrote, “Do you want me to speak about how you instructed that @MYANC MP Bongani Bongo be censored by removing all the allegations he made at Minister Pravin Gordhan?
“What happened to a simple journalism principle of two sides to a story? Getting both parties to answer for themselves?”
Maseko added, “Do want me to speak about how you threw me out of the @eNCA building like a dog who had stolen something?
“How you came to my desk and said I should pack my [stuff] and follow you to HR? You are heartless and unethical. Denying some[one] a chance to serve a notice period.”
eNCA and Pillay have not yet commented on the matter. Pillay is the founder and a leader of the Capitalist Party of South Africa (ZACP), also known as the Purple Cow.
UPDATE: SANEF has since issued a statement expressing concern at “allegations of editorial interference in the newsroom at eNCA.”
It said, “SANEF will, therefore, write to eNCA management to request a meeting and to seek clarity on Mr. Pillay’s position.
“The allegations of censorship against a senior editorial executive at eNCA go against the principles that SANEF holds dear. SANEF, therefore, calls on eNCA to immediately get to the bottom of these allegations against Pillay.
“We welcome the fact that Maseko has agreed to approach Judge Kathleen Satchwell and the Media Ethics and Credibility Inquiry to discuss these issues further.”