As the sixteenth year of ‘freedom’ ushered in, one sadly observed the evolution of media/press reportage over the years and concur that indeed the media is free only to those who own it. The media also shapes national culture and sets the limits of national discourse and reflects the interests of the ruling class.
The SABC as an institution is pathetic. It is partisan and animated by ideology. With corporate-controlled media consolidating its foothold on media ownership as well as spreading its tentacles globally, news content altered dramatically. We are continuously being fed a steady diet of rehashed intellectual pap. Almost invariably issues are perfunctorily dealt with and treated peremptorily coupled with un-insightful political debates.
After the banning of the PAC and ANC in 1960, one of the most talked about leaders in this country was PAC founding President Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe. This is confirmed in an article in Drum magazine of December 1962 written by Nathaniel Nakasa. In his Long Walk to Freedom Nelson Mandela inadvertently corroborates this point further when he writes that in his 1961 trip to several African countries, he was asked where Sobukwe was by African leaders and heads of state, including Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia who now pretends he never knew about Sobukwe and hardly mentions him. In fact, Zambia expelled the PAC in 1968 because they were influenced by Moscow which favoured the ANC.
After the assassination, in March 1975, of ZANU leader Herbert Chitepo, while in exile in Zambia, Kaunda expelled ZANU following spurious claims that there was in-fighting within ZANU. Kaunda can’t repeat those fanciful claims now that the latest revelations are that former Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith’s CIO, with the collusion of Britain’s Sellous Scouts were responsible for Chitepo’s death. The media failed to bring out this angle about the Rhodesian-British connection in the assassination of Chitepo.
In his 1964 speech in Ghana, Malcolm X urged his audience to remember Sobukwe and Mandela. A few weeks thereafter he succumbed under a hail of the assassins’ bullets in New York. The corporate media again led the public up the garden path by claiming that Malcolm X was killed as a result of the rivalry between him and the Nation of Islam while declassified documents show that Malcolm X’s assassination was the work of the CIA and FBI.
In the Western world there was a blackout on media coverage of the PAC and Black Consciousness groups. Whenever something was reported about these groups they were either vilified or the reportage would be negative. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation television once played a clip of veteran journalist Allister Sparks saying that the erstwhile South African government should quickly negotiate with the moderate ANC in order to avoid negotiating with the more radical PAC.