Business Day, Johannesburg, 23 October 2006

The Thick End of the Wedge

Peter Bruce

YOU just have to read this. It’s the start of an article in yesterday’s City Press by SABC CE Dali Mpofu, raging against critics who have suggested he may have been a little economical with the truth when he tried to whitewash the Sisulu-Marcus report into blacklisting at the national broadcaster.

I quote, and the italics are mine: “The current SABC ‘blacklisting’ controversy is a storm in a teacup. It is a lot of noise about virtually nothing. It can only serve to detract from the real issues, the ideological battle of ideas and the ill-fated attempts to hijack our democratic values of ubuntu and human dignity on which our Constitution is premised.

“As the only person who initiated and appointed the Sisulu Commission, let me state that my intention was never to satisfy the bloodlust of the right-wing lobby (read white) and its fellow travellers (read black) in the mass media. That would have been trying to do the impossible.

“These people will never find anything positive done by someone (black) like me. Short of returning to the caves, some of us will never do right in the eyes of the spoilt South African right wing and its media. In SA, the right wing is wrongly referred to as ‘liberal’.”

The newspaper at least saved us taxpayers the price of expensive newspaper adverts Mpofu took out the last time he wanted to say the same thing — after being criticised for canning a documentary on President Thabo Mbeki.

Nevertheless, the intellectual poverty of the above extract (and the rest of the article) helps you understand why a lawyer like Mpofu might instead seek sheltered employment from the state.

Here’s another piece of awesome analysis from the same work: “Let me state clearly that people who think the Mail & Guardian was motivated (to publish a leaked copy of the final Sisulu report after Mpofu had tried to snow-job it) by ‘the public interest’ needs (sic) their heads examined.

“It should be patently clear that it was a combination of commercial motives, headline-grabbing one-upmanship against other newspapers and the pervasive anti- establishment hatred of anything connected to the democratically elected black-dominated government of the day, pandering to the basest instincts of the South African mainly racist political right wing as evidenced by its selective reporting when it had the full report.”

I don’t know if you have to actually froth at the mouth when you write that sort of stuff but it made me froth just copying it out. Mpofu makes the mistake of assuming the chip on his shoulder is a universal one. It isn’t. Most of the people I report to are black (or, as Mpofu says, like me), and I don’t think I have ever been managed better. And I’m difficult. Business Day certainly hasn’t.

I’m glad City Press gave him the platform, however. The impression that there might be a level-headed chap in charge at the SABC can now safely be discarded.

I wouldn’t call Mpofu a liar, though. If I did I’d also become one of the right-wing racist so-called liberals out to trash anything black. But try to remember who once wrote, after a long and intimate relationship with Mpofu and who therefore can be reckoned to have known him well, that he was a “compulsive, sophisticated liar”.

It was Winnie Mandela, Mother of the Nation, way back in 1992.


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