Tomorrow, 6000 miles… will join many other South African blogs taking part in Sipho Hlongwane’s #SpeakZA campaign against the ANC Youth League’s recent attacks on media freedom.
On Thursday March 18, Sipho Hlongwane, a 21-year-old law student from the KwaZulu-Natal midlands, read a piece on the Daily Maverick news site entitled, “Political journalists complain to the boss about ANC Youth League spokesman Floyd Shivambu.” The piece, you may remember, republished a letter sent by nineteen of the country’s top political journalists to ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe. The journalists’ complaint was that Shivambu had threatened them when they questioned the authenticity of a dossier he’d attempted to leak. The subject of the dossier? The private life of City Press reporter Dumisani Lubisi, who, you may also remember, was instrumental in exposing Youth League president Julius Malema’s various business interests.
Hlongwane, on reading this and further concerns raised in the letter – for instance, Malema’s public warning that he’d personally “arrest” journalists caught breaking the law (ja, he said it) – realised he was being informed of a worrying new phenomenon.
“For the first time I got a shock,” he remembers. “I realised the lengths to which the ANC Youth League would go. This was the most blatant attack on media freedom I could remember. I thought, ‘What can I do?’ Social media seemed like a good answer.”
Word on the street is that the campaign post may well include the word “hubris”, and if you think that sounds a bit rude, maybe you need to go and look it up. Or you can just pretend you know what it means and giggle about Floyd Shivambu’s (apparently “breathtaking”) hubris, like I did.
UPDATE: Sipho’s thoughts are now up on 6000 miles… and a whole lot of other blogs, too.