South African President Jacob Zuma rebukes Julius Malema , ANC youth leader, for harassing journalist

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Julius Malema

South African President Jacob Zuma has reinforced freedom of expression and condemned the treatment of a BBC journalist by the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) president Julius Malema during a press conference on 8 April 2010.

A report by, quoted Zuma speaking at a media conference in Durban on 10 April 2010. “We must accord journalists the freedom to do their work unhindered. Should there be a need to take issue with anything that is being reported, it should be done in a manner that promotes frank and open engagement. We should engage them professionally and with dignity. The manner in which a BBC journalist was treated at an ANC Youth League press conference is regrettable and unacceptable, regardless of any alleged provocation on his part.” Certainly there must be consequences for such behavior, Zuma warned.

The statement by Zuma was sent to all newsrooms. Even though he did not mention Malema by name, he was clearly referring to the populist youth leader, whose conduct he said was ‘alien’ to the ANC.

Meanwhile Raymond Louw, veteran editor and media rights campaigner, told local media on 11 April 2010 that “while the President’s statement is unprecedented and quite strong in relation to his previous statements about Malema – or his lack of them – when the man has behaved outrageously, it certainly could have been much tougher and contained actual censure, if not stronger action, directed at Malema by name.”

But surprisingly Malema, who seems to be losing support in his home province Limpopo, was unmoved. He was quoted by as saying, “from where I am sitting, I am unshaken. I have done nothing wrong.”

However, Zuma’s rare public rebuke on Malema has surprised many analysts who continue to criticize the president for being ‘dormant’ and ‘lacking verve’ to effectively manage the ANC’s internal power struggles and alliance’s crisis, and to rein in Malema.


On 9 April 2010 the Business Day newspaper reported recent attacks on press freedom in which a BBC journalist Jonah Fisher was kicked out of a press conference by the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) president Julius Malema on 8 April 2010. There have been several harassments of journalists in South Africa in the last months, in which the ANCYL has been involved.


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