South Africa’s Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa on Sunday announced he had withdrawn advertising in newspapers and other media institutions which were reporting negatively about the ANC, the government and President Jacob Zuma.
Mthethwa made the announcement while addressing a cadres forum gathering in Molweni township, Durban.
Withdrawing the adverts was part of defending the liberation movement and its leaders, he said.
In his department and other departments, which he did not mention, there was a standing policy that “no one is going to advertise in newspapers which had an agenda to destroy the government”, he said.
“It does not happen in my department. People have an agenda against this transformation.
“It is like you are feeding a crocodile and stand next to it hoping that it won’t attack you because you are kind by feeding it,” said Mthethwa.
The government was spending millions of rand a year on advertising.
“It cannot be. We must take care of this money,” he said.
“We buy the very same newspapers that are against you. A large portion of government spending is on advertising in newspapers and elsewhere,” he said.
Zuma’s opponents would turn to the media whenever they wanted to gain popularity, he said. He called on ANC supporters not to believe everything they read in newspapers whenever bad things had been written against Zuma and the government.
“We should read beyond headlines. Naspers, which owns lots of media in South Africa, was made for Afrikaners,” he said.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was enjoying positive media coverage whenever he went to campaign, but former African Union Commission chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma was being reported on negatively, he said.
“They are writing that Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma was only campaigning in KwaZulu-Natal. But the comrade (Dlamini Zuma) went to the Eastern Cape, and visited four regions, but not one single television covered comrade Nkosazana while crisscrossing the Eastern Cape.”
Mthethwa said the media was being used by certain people to further their agenda. “If you do something, but people cannot see you, people would think you are doing nothing,” he said.
Anglogold chairman Sipho Pityana, Save South Africa and a few others would simply call press briefings whenever they wanted attention, he said.
“But where there are lots of people the media does not attend,” he said.
“Today if you want to be starring or be Clint Eastwood, you just call radio or TV to insult the ANC; they would be loved and called a veteran even if they don’t have a Struggle history.”
He rejected ANC veterans’ calls for the party’s National Policy Conference set to take place later this month to be replaced by the special national general council, to discuss challenges facing the party - including Zuma’s fate.
“They say ‘we want special’, but we say ‘you cannot get special congress because there is nothing special with you’, but it is our branches that are special,” said Mthethwa.
“It is not that we cannot respond to the comrades who are always speaking on TV.
“We can expose them, but that’s not how we were taught in the ANC. They, together with those who are leaders of the alliance, are nothing to us,” said Mthethwa.