Mashatile likely to fall victim to a biased media elections

By Tumi BB Senokoane

Paul Mashatile is suddenly an interesting figure in the local media. History reminds us that Adiwele candidate, Mashatile, was never part of the CR slate.

Mashatile could have never wanted to contest as a president of the ANC because he was wise enough to calculate that anyone who was to contest President Cyril Ramaphosa was going to lose not because any contender would have been weaker, but because Ramaphosa has an abundance of resources, and is the most powerful political figure in the country.

This calculation not to contest Ramaphosa made Mashatile a wiser candidate for deputy president of the ANC because he commanded the majority of delegates from different slates, including those who supported Ramaphosa as he was not a threat to any slate as a presidential candidate. It seems that Ramaphosa and his cabal have not forgotten that Mashatile was never theirs to control.

The next project for Ramaphosa is to destabilise, tame and destroy Mashatile, whether he will succeed or not, only time will tell but signs are showing how ruthless politics backed by the establishment is.

It is not a secret that Ramaphosa has been shrewd in how he deals with his opponents within the ANC and by using private media. There is no denial that Ramaphosa is a media darling, and that the media does not see any fault with him, except for using kid gloves even when the country is on the verge of collapse.

Mashatile has been identified as a possible successor of Ramaphosa against the expectations and wishes of some within the governing party, and a stronger candidate identified by coalition partners because of his political charm. This also has contributed to a suspicion and fear by Ramaphosa who is on the bumpy Phala Phala road to which the Section 89 panel chaired by the retired chief justice Ngcobo found a prima facie case against him.

This suspicion and anticipation have created a deliberate media attack and bias.

It is out of this context that a project to destroy Mashatile in the public eye with a giraffe view of summarily suspending him using the integrity committee of the ANC. It is predictable that Mashatile will not enjoy any honeymoon from the media towards the 2024 elections.

In this period, we shall witness the inability of journalists to report facts. In fact, facts shall be replaced by fiction and propaganda. Old stories of Mashatile containing untruths and half-truths shall emerge.

There shall be selective reporting and covering of events and stories against Mashatile to keep him busy justifying himself. In all this action we must expect that standards of journalism and media ethics shall be suspended.

Subjective selection of staff or preference shall be determined by market forces. Stories will be weaponised to ensure Mashatile is removed before the end of 2023 by the integrity committee.

As Marx once said, history is simply repeating itself as a “farce”.

The first phase of the project which failed to push Mashatile out of the deputy president office was about girlfriends and imaginary girlfriends. If the media was consistent on being a tabloid that it has positioned itself to be, surely, they will write about Cup-Cake shenanigans.

In the second phase, the media, pundits including the chief justice and journalists will talk about state capture recommendation and say nothing about Phala Phala or the unemployment years under CR.

Media, “experts” and journalists will write about the “Alex Mafia” (a smoke screen) and say nothing about Codesa-BEE deals. The media will say nothing about the fact that South Africans are getting poorer, but big business, which funded the CR17 campaign, is becoming richer.

Nothing or less shall be reported on the actual work that Mashatile is doing as deputy president. As Robert Black argues: “In dictatorship, the media is controlled by the state. In democracies, the media is controlled by wealthy individuals with political affiliations. Objective media and journalists simply do not exist in the mainstream.”

• Senokoane is associate professor at Unisa: College of Human Sciences

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