Grow up Fikile Mbalula, you are the Minister of Police FFS

COMMENT

Minister of Sports and Recreation Fikile Mbalula opening the Sports Complex at Batho Primary School in Mangaung, Free State. 01/06/2012

On 30 June, a group from the Black First Land First (BLF) movement decided to mob journalist Peter Bruce, picketing outside his home in Johannesburg for the stories he has written on President Jacob Zuma and the Guptas. According to BLF, Bruce is a bastion of ‘white monopoly capital’ and fake news. “He doesn’t write what is truthful, factual. He doesn’t investigate,” a spokesperson for BLF said.

So he needs to be confronted and bullied. At his home.

Naturally, the South African News and Editors Forum (and every decent human being) condemned this blatant attack on media freedom and journalistic integrity, but there was little word or action from the South African government.

It seems strange that this protest was allowed to go on when the #ZumaMustFall protest outside the Guptas’ private residence was dispersed with a stun grenade and heavy police presence.

Let’s all sip our tea and act like we don’t know why that was.

Anyway, on Friday evening our advocate Thuli Madonsela, the former Public Protector, tweeted at Fikile Mbalula, minister of police, asking him about the attack on Bruce’s home and the threats and intimidations faced by other journalists in South Africa.

In a not atypical curt and impolite manner, Mbaks replied that the case was being seen to. He also, for no reason, stated that he wouldn’t be selective in his dealings with the criminal attacks rising in the country. Social media blew up.

Mbaks is known for being a social media star. His meme-worthy expressions and spicy tweets are often the only entertainment many of us get after scrolling through timelines of death and destruction every day. But there’s a time and a place, and it seems that Mbeezy is taking his social media persona too far lately. South Africa’s high crime rates are shocking to no one. The South African Police Services is well-known for being utterly incompetent unless there’s a group of revolutionary students to shoot and arrest for sport, or poor black people protesting for basic services, or womxn protesting against rape culture.

As the minister of police, he has the duty to see that this ineptitude is fixed, and quickly. But what does he do instead? Get childishly defensive, and refuse to take responsibility for attacks against journalists under his watch while he live tweets about his day.

Media freedom is a critical issue is this country, where authoritarianism is scaling the walls of democracy like a house burglar. Advocate Madonsela enquired about a respected journalist who had been targeted for his refusal to contribute to the war against truth that we are facing. Fikile deliberately made the political personal by suggesting that she was being selective. Does Mbaks realise who he works for?

The Gupta-captured, miners-murdering, treasury-stealing, students-suppressing, ANN7-supported African National Congress or the people of this country?

With all that going on, Mbeezy must be suffering from some serious cognitive dissonance to still think he can protect the people of his country when his own party is destroying us. But no, advocate Madonsela is the one being selective.

As a citizen and a respected senior, she has the right to enquire about anything she wants to (remember the constitutional right to freedom of expression, Police Minister?)

His arrogance is abhorrent. Journalists are protecting the South African public from false narratives and lies, and that is why they are being targeted. Journalism must be protected. The truth must be protected.

Featured image via Flickr

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