This is the email I sent out yesterday:
I WAS BANNED ON BLACK WEDNESDAY
Today, I awoke to find out that I had been banned by Politicsweb.
Being banned on “Black Wednesday” is more than a little ironic. The centre-right political site, which carries commentary from political parties and commentators, but more often than not, right-wing screeds from the likes of RW Johnson, who once referred to black persons as ‘baboons and monkeys’ on the London Review of Books Blog, and who was subsequently labeled a racist by 73 prominent writers and academics, has banned me from participating in online discussion because of my views on #FeesMustFall.
The banning comes in the wake of comments posted under a piece by William Saunderson-Meyer, blaming the EFF for campus unrest.
Following a Cabinet decision, taken on 18 October 1977, the apartheid government, by proclamation under the Internal Security Act, “declared 19 organisations unlawful and apprehended around 70 leading Africans. A number of people were placed under restriction, including Donald Woods who was editor-in-chief at the Daily Dispatch. It also closed down the daily newspaper ‘The World’ and its associated ‘Weekend World’. The actions provoked worldwide shock and protest.”
It is an opportune moment to remember that journalists always run the risk of raising the ire of politicians everywhere and that the fourth estate is under serious threat from growing electronic surveillance, decreasing profitability, rapid changes in the public’s media habits (with the resulting loss of influence), and that South Africa has a unique history when it comes to press censorship.
As a simple banned person, one of hundreds of students banned en masse by the apartheid government during the student revolt of 1987, and who subsequently joined the armed struggle and its organs of struggle the anti-apartheid press, I believe that I have a unique position to comment on the student revolts of our time.
Given the justice system’s contempt for the TRC Act and the constitution, I believe the fallists are completely entitled to be engaging in acts of civil disobedience. Allowing apartheid denial to go unpunished and its perpetrators to escape justice, has resulted in the absurd situation where its victims are unable to seek redress. If some 6000 members of Khulumani are sitting without legal representation, and I myself do not possess an attorney at state expense in a TRC-related case, what hope is there for future acts of reconciliation and the next generation? The generation of today has an important message for the nation’s adults who have forgotten the teargas and rubber bullets of the past.
Insurrection against the apartheid government was always the modus operandi of the struggle press. It is titles such as South, New Nation and Grassroots which carried the banner of defiance and which alongside the Rand Daily Mail, Daily Dispatch and Weekend World need to be remembered and treasured. It is a crying shame that the press of today have turned into nothing more than sycophants of neoliberalism, and that Politicsweb, one of the few online spaces to not close down its comments section, has seen fit to ban me on Black Wednesday.