Julius Malema: I will stop inviting the media

EFF leader calls journalists 'crooks' who refuse to interrogate Pravin Gordhan

Malema: I will stop inviting the media

28 November 2018

EFF leader Julius Malema says he will stop inviting the media to party events.

Malema and the EFF have been at loggerheads with the media after the politician launched an attack on the media and individual journalists last week.

Speaking outside the venue where the commission of inquiry into state capture is being held, Malema dubbed certain journalists "the defence force of President Cyril Ramaphosa and Pravin Gordhan".

He called journalists "crooks" who refused to interrogate Gordhan and investigate its claims against the Public Enterprises minister's daughter.

While Malema said the EFF should "decisively" deal with the journalists he named, he urged the party's supporters not to use violence.

On Sunday, Malema continued his attack, banning the Sunday Times and its reporters from covering his events and also labelling the publication's owners as racist.

The  South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) approached the EFF to discuss threats and intimidation levelled at the media by Malema, but the request was declined.

In a Twitter exchange with Sanef chairperson and Eyewitness News Editor-in-Chief Mahlatse Mahlase, Malema said he would stop inviting journalists to party events.

"This conversation of finding solutions … would have been productive if we had the meeting. Twitter limited words conversations are not conducive. You could also just bring to an end the intimidation & threats to journalists ... that led to this situation," Mahlase tweeted.

Malema replied: "Maybe we should stop inviting all of them to avoid a situation where others don't feel safe, and others have to also leave in solidarity, just thinking for a solution which will work for all of us."

A hostile exchange involving EFF supporters, among others, followed, with Malema later simply stating: "I think I've got the answer, will stop the invite."

Sanef has urged journalists to leave press conferences or rallies held by political parties if they feel under threat or intimidated.

"Sanef will continue to seek legal advice on remedies available to us to protect journalists from bullying and intimidation by politicians," Mahlase said in a statement released on Monday.

Malema earlier stated he would meet with Sanef on the condition that the forum doesn't "bring racist things like this white young boy called Adriaan Basson".

Basson is the treasurer of Sanef and Editor-in-Chief of News24.

The intimidation of journalists is not new to Malema. In 2010 Malema, who was president of the ANC Youth League at the time, referred to a BBC journalist as a "bastard" and a "bloody agent" during a press conference at Luthuli House. The journalist was subsequently kicked out of the presser.In August 2016, during a press conference held at the Tshwane IEC results centre, the EFF banned Gupta-owned ANN7 from its events.

This resulted in the broadcaster's journalists facing several incidents of intimidation, as well as verbal and physical threats while reporting out on the field.

In the party's response on its decision to decline Sanef's request for a meeting, EFF secretary-general Godrich Gardee said the political party was fully booked with engagements until the elections in May 2019.

This was despite its spokesperson, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, allegedly telling two news radio stations and a television station that the political party would meet with the forum.

Meanwhile, Sanef has called on all supporters of media freedom to join the forum in speaking out against the continued bullying and intimidation of journalists.