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ANC, SACP and Youth League statement on the Sunday times

8 September 2008

Press freedom - as enshrined in our Constitution - is one of the cornerstones of any democracy and South Africa is no exception. It is for this reason why we deplore the abuse of press freedom as done by the Sunday Times yesterday by publishing a disgusting cartoon.

Not only is the cartoon depiction by the newspaper of African National Congress (ANC) President Jacob Zuma as a rapist, it is distasteful and borders on defamation of character. It further insults the integrity of the Secretary-General of the ANC, Comrade Gwede Mantashe and Alliance leaders.

Freedom of expression and the press is not one-sided but the inalienable right of every South African.

The ANC, SACP and the ANC YL strongly condemn this abuse, disguised as "press freedom". We further view this as a direct assault on the ANC and Alliance membership and its leadership. The cartoon rubbishes the collective integrity of the Alliance and constitutes yet another continued violation of the rights and dignity of the ANC President.

We have repeatedly stated our commitment to uphold and defend the Constitution, and the rule of law. We have never attacked the judiciary but criticised unfair treatment of our President. This, we did in a normal public discourse of a democratic society. There can, therefore, be no justification for such unwarranted insult on our leadership by the Sunday Times.

By his own admission, Sunday Times editor Mondli Makhanya, says: "We are not angels and - idealistic as we are - we have never purported to be on a higher plane than the rest of human society. Just as others make mistakes, so will we." The cartoon depiction of our collective leadership and a string of errors the newspaper continues to make in its reporting, calls into question the integrity and credibility of Makhanya as editor.

Similarly, the cartoonist Zapiro has gone off the mark and he needs to be reminded of the basic tenets of press freedom for which insult and defamation are not counted amongst them. He has also been consistent in these un-warranted attacks on the movement and its leadership. In a country where we have a serious scourge of fighting violence against women and in particular rape, we need to be very careful how we use the notion and the concept of rape loosely to demonstrate any form of perceived abuse.

No amount of half-truths published by the Sunday Times, will sway the hard earned good public perception of the ANC and the Alliance. We can only hope that the newspaper will find a suitable leadership other than the ranting dictator who finds joy in manipulating the truth. The ANC is keen that the public should get Makhanya to answer for abuse of press freedom by the Sunday Times.

Issued:
African National Congress
SA Communist Party
ANC Youth League

Enquiries:
Steyn Speed (ANC)
Cell: 0825727304

Malesela Maleka (SACP)
Cell: 082261802

Floyd Shivambu (ANC Youth League)
Cell: 0768801904