Editorial Comment In The News

Comment: The week that was – fake news, paid twitter and ‘year of the (olive) branch’

It has been a turbulent week in the media space as public opinion around the plunder of state resources in the dying years of apartheid has made its way back into sharp focus. One side of the great divide calls it a distraction tactic, aimed at diverting attention from contemporary looters, and the other side demands that reparations are finally paid for unfair practices that continue to benefit corporates in the new democratic dispensation.

The CIEX report, which first surfaced in the late 1990s implicates Absa, Sanlam, Nedbank as well as Johann Rupert’s Rembrandt Group in apartheid-era corruption. The call for Absa to pay back the money, which has been part of a broader intensive anti-white monopoly capital programme, has intensified this week. This follows leaked recommendations of the new Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, that Absa pay back R2.25bn in respect to an apartheid bailout of Bankcorp, subsequently bought by Absa. The ANCYL marched against Absa in Durban on Thursday and Black First, Land First has announced that the organisation will picket outside 50 Absa outlets on Saturday.

Despite EFF leader Julius Malema’s bold statements in 2015 that the EFF would occupy every branch of Absa in the country, there has been no movement whatsoever. Some commentators have seen this as a signal that the EFF, which termed 2017 the year of the branch, is extending an olive branch to white capital, after their London voyage in early 2016 which saw party leaders meet with Lord Robin Renwick.

Perhaps the seeming paralysis of the EFF is simply the lack of sure-footedness of an infant party. After all, in the ‘confessional’ of a press conference earlier this week, the EFF’s Commander-In Chief Julius Malema admitted to a plethora of mistakes made over the past 3 years since the party’s inception.

The party does seems to be stumbling a lot, especially of late.  Perhaps it is just the case of the terrible threes.

The latter part of this week has seen fast and furious waves of outrage emerge around fake media and paid twitter as Shaka Sisulu was unceremoniously thrown overboard, after reports accused the ANC of running a black-ops smear campaign during the last elections. The ANC has vehemently denied being involved in the “war room” operation and distanced itself from the protagonists in the saga. Mainstream media houses, targets of fake twitter accounts, have come out guns blazing as the fake news debate that has been raging in the US has made its way to our shores. #PaidTwitter is a hashtag that won’t go away any time soon and expect many more developments around this topic as name-calling and mudslinging continues.

White capital would welcome this, as it directs attention away from themselves and back at the ANC. It would be foolish to think the storm has passed, though, as the ANCYL showed when it re-energised its allegations that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Cyril Ramaphosa are working to sink South African Airways, by alleging links between the two and white capital. Then, the march to an Absa branch made sure to keep Absa firmly on the social media discussion list.

It will be stormy water ahead. Any holes in the vessels that navigate these waters will sink them.

Weekly Xposé
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