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President Zuma’s latest attack on the media does not come as a surprise to Congress of the People. To make the media into a scapegoat is a ruse to escape his culpability. The media confronted us squarely and directly with our national shame. The media compelled government to acknowledge that it was witnessing xenophobia and afrophobia, not just criminality by transgressors of the law as it has been vainly trying to claim.

That is what the media did. It shocked the nation into admission of the truth and galvanised it into action.

It was an act of great personal courage and patriotism for the photographer of the Sunday Times to capture the brutish and callous murder of Emmanuel Sithole while so many people looked on and did nothing. The pictures show graphically the depth of hatred of one African of another. It showed also how some people were aggressively negating ‘umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu’, and ‘Motho ke motho ka batho’, and ‘Feta kgomo o tshware motho’. These ideals were meant to underpin our humanity and our embrace of our fellow Africans but were being trashed in the xenophobic and afrophobic frenzy..

Let us not blame the media. The media did sterling work in confronting us with our ignorance, our hatred and our penchant for brutish violence.

The reports have certainly done us no favour internationally. Unfortunately, no attempt to hide or sanitise what happened would have had any effect.

Patriotism, President Zuma must understand, requires the media to expose the truth. Truth sets us free. Sunshine journalism will only keep us ignorant and apathetic. The dogged pursuit of truth finally exposed the ugliness we had run away from for so long. The media destroyed the pretence that xenophobia and afrophobia did not exist in our country.

We live in a constitutional democracy. In as much as the President wishes he were a dictator, fortunately for us he cannot be. He must uphold the constitution and seek to do the hard yards before looking for acknowledgement and a pat on the back.

COPE accepts that a free and unfettered media is our guarantee of democracy. The media has alerted us to what is happening and the government now needs to undertake the transformation that was promised to make a better life for all possible but which stalled and lost momentum.

President Zuma and his oversized government must get down to work.

Issued by Dennis Bloem on behalf of COPE, Dennis Bloem is COPE’s national spokesperson

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