The following is the presidency’s right of reply to Eusebius McKaiser’s column “Trump, Zuma are worse than liars”, published in the Mail & Guardian on February 3.
Eusebius McKaiser’s article; “Trump, Zuma are worse than liars” Mail & Guardian, February 3-9 is completely beyond the pale and way outside the conventions of responsible journalism and freedom of expression, so repulsive that they cannot be repeated here.
How this kind of invective and swearwords, particularly against heads of state slips the editorial controls is perplexing to say the least, and can only justifiably fuel speculation of tacit support to such uncouth and repugnant language. But one can only imagine the uproar that a tit for tat for this vitriol can generate in the media space.
The specious and grotesque comparison between the two leaders notwithstanding, it is important for McKaiser to appreciate that inherent in the freedom of speech is refraining from violating the dignity of other people, including offending public sensibilities.
While democratic leaders such as President Jacob Zuma do not necessarily open up to journalists on condition or basis of their patronage and common viewpoints, the rapport is very essential in a democracy for robust media engagement and unencumbered participation of the people in public affairs, and unfortunately this kind of writing strains the relations between the leaders and the journalists.
Without dignifying this vitriol with undue blow by blow response, President Zuma is not a demagogue but a democratically elected leader, who had sacrificed for and served this country devoutly many years before he could even become a president.
He has spiritedly championed pro-poor policies and leads a concerted transformation programme in the country to build an inclusive economy, which may not go well with many of the detractors and beneficiaries of the previous status quo, including some people in certain media establishments or their proxies.
By David Ntshabele