Public response to Miyeni column

Posted on August 2, 2011. Filed under: News |

Kate Lefko-Everett

Ever since yesterday’s edition of The Sowetan reached newsstands – or for many of us, went up online – there has been an enormous public response to Eric Miyeni’s column, entitled Haffajee does it for white masters‘.

Miyeni’s charges against the City Press, and editor-in-chief Ferial Haffajee in particular, have provoked a wide range of reactions ranging from outrage and dismay, to a public endorsement by ANC Youth League president Julius Malema during an open call-in show hosted by Redi Tlhabi on Talk Radio 702 this morning (you can listen to the podcast, which includes a brief input from Miyeni, here).

Haffajee has indicated that she will pursue legal advice, and according to the same report by SAPA, the Sowetan has announced the immediate discontinuation of Miyeni’s column. SAPA quotes a statement by Avusa editor-in-chief Mondli Makhanya and Sowetan acting editor Len Maseko:

Eric Miyeni expresses robust views shared by many South Africans. This is why he has continued writing a column in the Sowetan newspaper… However, the expression of these views should not be accompanied by the promotion or condonation of violence against those who hold differing views.” (source)

By Monday evening, the Sowetan had removed the article from its website, although interested readers can still view it  here via online cache. City Press has also asked readers to share their views here.

It was interesting to note that Malema, whose family finances and their recent treatment in the media are at the heart of Miyeni’s article, raised several important points on air today, including that of the potentially divisive and destabilising consequences of continued and profound economic inequality in South Africa.

However, it seems to me that we may have lost our way, when important national debate surrounding these issues includes allusions to, and recollections of violence? Your thoughts?

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One Response to “Public response to Miyeni column”

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Thanks for summarising the debate and issue. I think it is very disturbing that the type of language used in the public debate among opinion leaders in society is of such low and derogatory nature. It also seems that debates become more and more about who can blame who in society but not about how to address and target the real big challenges constructively that South Africa is facing.


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