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Forum of Journalists for Transformation on a march to Citizen Offices
18 November 2016
The Forum of Journalists for Transformation (FJT), in collaboration with the Communications Workers Union (CWU) will march to the offices of Caxton-owned Citizen newspaper on Wednesday, 23 November 2016.
The march, which is part of the FJT`s media transformation campaign, is in support of the suspended Citizen`s Steve Motale and other Caxton journalists who are victims of the company`s wanton exploitation, editorial interference, institutionalised racism and an anti-black corporate culture, among others.
Details of the march are as follows:
Venue: Citizen Offices, No 9 Wright Street, Industrial West, Johannesburg
The march will begin at 10:00 at Bosmont Park, Albertina Sisulu Road, next to the Cemetery where Albertina and Walter Sisulu are buried.
Protesters will then proceed to the nearby Citizen offices where a memorandum will be handed over at 12:00, to highlight the following concerns:
1. Editorial interference;
3. Media freedom and freedom of speech;
4. Exploitation, harassment and victimisation of journalists;
5. Racialised salary disparities;
6. And an anti-black corporate culture.
Motale has been at the helm of the publication since 2013 and has been one of the few black voices in the industry who upheld the principles of diversity and impartiality in this largely untransformed industry, The Citizen included, where blacks continue to face widespread discriminatory harassment in the newsrooms.
The FJT finds it strange that the editor was suspended after a damning investigation about former finance minister Trevor Manuel, current finance minister Pravin Gordhan and ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu was published in the paper a few weeks ago.
During this period, The Citizen ran a series about a Hawks probe into Manuel for his alleged role into the irregular awarding of SARS tenders and reportedly responded in unbecoming manner to the journalists who called him. Manuel allegedly approved a contract on modernisation at SARS worth R100 million, currently standing at R1 billion, without following due process.
It appears that Motale has been accused of having a personal vendetta against Manuel, and of running a campaign against him. These allegations are unfounded considering that it is the duty of all newspapers in South Africa to publish stories reflecting all spheres of our democracy and to enquire without fear, favour of social standing.
Another factor, it appears, that led to his sacking was affording SABC boss, Hlaudi Motsoeneng a platform to share his side of the story when the latter was facing heavy criticism from Mthembu and other ANC leaders. We understand that one of the executive directors at Caxton instructed a publisher to fire him ostensibly for violating Caxton`s code of conduct.
The FJT further understands that the same executive director, then instructed the publisher to offer Motale a golden handshake to leave because his "services were no longer needed". An undisclosed monetary offer was then made to Motale on condition he walked away silently. Motale refused this offer and its condition, saying he could not be bought to keep quiet about these unsavoury developments.
The company then puts him on immediate suspension pending an inquiry. Based on these sickening allegations that have been uncovered by the FJT, we call for Caxton to reinstate Motale immediately if they are genuine supporters of free speech, media diversity and editorial independence.
The tale and fate of Motale is nothing new in the media industry in South Africa. The moment Motale broke ranks with the mainstream media narrative and introduced diverse perspectives and even apologised to President Jacob Zuma for some of the malicious reports that were prevalent during in his endless trials, the FJT knew he was a goner.
It was only a matter of time before the incorrigible white cabal and their lackeys who control the media in South Africa got rid of him. He was side-lined and avoided by most of his mainstream media colleagues for thinking differently.
For enquiries contact
1. Piet Rampedi (President) 0726509650
2. Denvor de Wee (Deputy President)083 238 5870
3. Sonnyboy Morobane (Secretary)
African National Congress Youth League