Thursday, September 9, 2010

Wa Africa's battle won but not the war

In a previous blog post I gave you all the reasons why I say "Big up!" to Sunday Times journalist Mzilikazi wa Africa. My reasons for holding this pensmith in high esteem ranged from light hearted nostalgia evoked by his name, to more serious admiration of his fearless determination to expose the corrupt and wayward ways of South African public officials.

As Mzilikazi wa Africa was hauled to the courts on flimsy charges meant to intimidate and muffle him on the 4th of August, it was definitely a sad time for all supporters and lovers of press independence. It is therefore a cause to celebrate now that the National Prosecuting Authority has "provisionally" withdrawn charges. There is more reason to smile considering that complaints against the conduct of the police are to be lodged with the Independent Complaints Directorate. Labour movement, COSATU has called for a public enquiry into the whole saga of Wa Africa's harassment and Wa Afrika himself has indicated that he intends suing for wrongful arrest and defamation of character.

Somehow though, I do not see South African media grinning from ear to ear over this latest victory for press freedom. Why not? For the simple reason that this is merely a battle won, not a war. With the South African president Jacob Zuma and his ruling ANC party going full steam ahead to set up a media tribunal and pass their Protection of Information Bill, there might be more grief to come for Mzansi's journos. The best that they can do in this circumstance is to sharpen their pencils and refill their pens, in preparation for more battles in this soon-to-be bloody war. Once again we cry "Bayethe" to you all.

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