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In conversation with Dr Fikeni: Jessie Duarte ‘incident indicative of the stresses and strains’ in the ANC

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Dr Somadoda Fikeni gives commentary on the ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte’s reaction to questions posed by eNCA senior journalist Samkele Maseko.

On Tuesday, 2 April 2019, the African National Congress’ (ANC) deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte was addressing journalists during a media briefing at Luthuli House, Pretoria, when she lashed out at eNCA’s senior journalist Samkele Maseko and accused him of asking her “attacking” questions, being arrogant and “acting like the lord of the media.”

Following the incident, the ANC met the South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) on Wednesday, 3 April 2019, in engagements that the ANC national spokesperson Dakota Legoete described as cordial and robust.

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“In both meetings, we agreed that the incident between the deputy secretary-general of the ANC, Ms Jessie Duarte, and the eNCA reporter, Mr Samkele Maseko, was unfortunate and not in the spirit of a professional and mutually beneficial relationship.”

Political analyst and advisor to the University of South Africa’s (UNISA) Vice Chancellor, Dr Somadoda Fikeni, concurred that the incident was truly unfortunate.

“Well, it is quite unfortunate and perhaps indicative of the stresses and strain that the ANC is going through, especially the secretariat, where between Ace Magashule and Jessie Duarte they are facing quite an enormous pressure.

“It was unfortunate, and it was uncalled for, because when you invite journalists, you’re not going to be in control of the questions they ask, you would rather issue a press statement without meeting with them if you want to avoid an interaction, more so during the election period. Any conversation is likely to go beyond any stated boundaries,” Fikeni said.

Fikeni warned leaders in general against posing such restrictions on the media, adding that it had become prevalent in various parties to practise various forms of restrictions on the media.

“It’s not even just the ruling party, any leader in the society pose a threat when they do not understand or appreciate the utility of press freedom, even if you disagree with them. When we say, ‘the ruling party’, other parties will come to rule … we cannot wait for them to take their turn when they’re incumbent to do the same thing. It should be a blanket condemnation as a principle.

“We’re beginning to see the same from other party leaders using different forms, others [use] threats, as we saw in the claims of the EFF [against veteran journalist Karima Brown], others, like the DA, show a tremendous amount of sarcastic, cynical and very sharp reaction wherever they’re covered.”

Abenathi Gqomo
[email protected]

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