Dictators, Democracy and Free Press: A Commentary on Black Tuesday.

“The homage we can pay to truth is to use it.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882).

Imagine Robert Mugabe decides to sue Nandos and the creatives behind this ad for defamation. I’m almost sure that in addition to disputing whether or not the Nandos ad is defamatory of the Zimbabwean President, the legal team for Nandos would also rely on the right to freedom of expression which is a basic political right found in almost all the Constitutions of the world.

Freedom of expression is closely linked with freedom of the press and other media as one of the essential ingredients of democracy. The press, especially for countries committed to the path of democratisation, is meant to serve as the medium of delivery and transmitting ideas to and from the People. There is however a danger of unnecessarily and irresponsibly hiding behind democracy to justify every action of the press. It is within the context of these two extremes that the following comments are made on South Africa’s latest Bill to be tabled before Parliament: The Protection of Information Bill aka ‘Secrecy Bill’

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When Mandela Dies…

Two months ago, my biggest fear was that Mr. Nelson Mandela would meet his tragic demise before getting a chance to witness the first World Cup ever on African soil only a bus trip away from his palatial home in Bishopscourt, Cape Town. You may not agree with me on this but I truly believe it was Mandela that brought the World Cup to Africa, through his name, his symbolic status and the country he helped liberate from apartheid. And for that, we should all be grateful.

Yesterday, Mr. Nelson Mandela (as children of the soil we’re allowed to call him ‘Tata Madiba’) celebrated his 92nd birthday. It goes without question that South Africa and indeed the world at large adore and revere Madiba and have deified him to the point where the United Nations has declared July 18th “International Nelson Mandela Day”.
Understand this, the only International Days the UN has declared so far have to do with Children, Human Rights, Women, the Environment and such. So, yes, it’s a big deal for *a person*, *any person* let alone Mandela to have such an honour bestowed upon them. Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King and a few others (may their souls rest in peace) must be literally turning multiple shades of green envious of Madiba.

All that being said, Mandela will one day die. Don’t shoot the messenger. Just hear me out.

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