Saturday, April 10, 2010

(ZIMBABWE GUARDIAN) Nothing to apologize for: Malema

COMMENT - Everybody wins. :) Julius Malema gains name recognition and cements his militant image and position in the ANC Youth League, by getting maximum free publicity. President Zuma gets to look like a moderate on the international scene. Jonah Fisher is lifted from obscurity for acting like an ass. The BBC of course looks like it employs jerks, but then their credibility in Africa can hardly be lower after their decade long stance on Zimbabwe anyway.

Nothing to apologize for: Malema
By: Philip Murombedzi
Posted: Saturday, April 10, 2010 5:36 pm

AFRICAN National Congress Youth League chief Julius Malema said on Friday night that he was not "remorseful" about chasing BBC journalist Jonah Fisher from a media briefing, as President Jacob Zuma issued a statement saying Malema's comments did not reflect the thinking in the party.

"We are not remorseful on our stance (sic) and will never be remorseful about disrespectful journalists; particularly [those] from countries whose media always undermine the credibility and integrity of African leaders," Malema said in a statement. Malema said he had been provoked by Fisher's comments.

"In the process answering to questions, a white guy, whom we later discovered is a reporter from the British Broadcasting Corporation, interjected when we were expressing the disgust over the fact that [Zimbabwe's] Movement for Democratic Change is throwing insults at the ANC Youth League leadership from air-conditioned offices in Sandton, whilst the masses are on the ground in Zimbabwe."

"He, in a very scornful way, responded by saying 'but you stay in Sandton'."

Malema said he became "agitated" when Fisher did not back down. He said, though, that the ANCYL would be willing to talk to Fisher if he wanted to apologise.

"Our doors are, however, open for engagement with the journalist if he intends to render an apology and we will from there decide what will happen."

Malema also lashed out at the way the media reported on the incident. "We are disturbed on how most media houses have portrayed a distorted picture on what exactly happened. They presented a picture that we just responded to the journalists without provocation and that is mischievous."

He said the ANCYL would defend free speech and media freedom, but that it "should be expressed within certain confines".

"We respect the rights of journalists to openly engage on whatever issue they deem suitable, but they should not be disrespectful."


Meanwhile, SA President Zuma intervened Saturday to try to rein in the outspoken youth leader of his African National Congress party but did not suspend him from his position.

Zuma said his party's leaders should "think before they speak, as their utterances have wider implications for the country."

Zuma said he spoke to Malema about the incident involving the BBC journalist.

The telephone discussion apparently took place Thursday, soon after Malema expelled the journalist from an ANC Youth League news conference. The next day, Malema defended his own behavior and called on the journalist to apologize for interrupting him.

"The manner in which a BBC journalist was treated at an ANC Youth League press conference is regrettable and unacceptable, regardless of any alleged provocation on his part," Zuma said Saturday.

Zuma will find it difficult to suspend or expel Malema from the party or from his position. The Youth League is known for getting voters to the polls, and local elections are coming.

"We do recognize that we have a responsibility to act in a way that reduces the potential for tension, and encourages unity," Zuma said Saturday.

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