12 AUGUST 2010
Foolish statements from our leaders
by Colleen Naude: Editor of Finweek.
Foolish viewpoints by “leaders” who should know better made headlines last week. Here are two examples, by an MD and a PhD. Our Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, mentioned in passing during the course of a speech that the admission requirements for medical students should be lowered. Because, the learned minister said, by not doing so we were driving prospective doctors to places like Cuba.
No, Doctor, we’re driving students with excellent matric results to places like The Netherlands to qualify as doctors there. They comply with all the admission requirements but they’re white. So they have to make way so the South African university concerned can admit more students from previously disadvantaged communities in order to meet the required quota.
But perhaps the most foolish statement came from Blade Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education and general secretary of the SA Communist Party, concerning the dangerous proposal of a tribunal to keep the media in check. In his tetchy tirade celebrating the 89th anniversary of the SACP, he said SA’s media is a danger to democracy. But then, entangled in his own convoluted thinking, he added: “We have no other opposition than the bourgeois media.” But, my dear Dr Nzimande, that’s exactly what makes a democracy work: the fact there’s an opposition. And bourgeois in fact means of the people.
Nzimande went on to demonstrate his knowledge about freedom of the media thus: “We know how important a free media is, because the Communists went to jail for it.”
How ironic, because Communist regimes worldwide have never been known for promoting free media. Has he forgotten the SABC presents the most comprehensive, widest news coverage of all media via its radio stations in all SA’s 11 official languages and its three TV channels – under direct control of the ANC Government?
And radio news is free. The media not under State control are largely SA’s newspapers, which are naturally more critical. But they’re controlled by four independent groups that compete with one another and those with the sharpest criticism get sold, so nothing’s forced down anyone’s throat.
Nzimande and his power-hungry allies should know that, over the short term, State control of all media will allow the Government to abuse its powers without the man in the street knowing about it. But over the long term Government will become increasingly ineffective until, as in the former Soviet Union, it finally collapses and drags the whole country down with it.