Thu. Jun 20th, 2019

Andile Mngxitama: South Africa must turn its back on attention-seekers

Andile MngxitamaThe only way rent-a-gobs like Andile Mngxitama can flourish is by staying in the news, through any means necessary. It’s high time we changed that.

andile mngxitama south africa must turn its back on attention seekers - Andile Mngxitama: South Africa must turn its back on attention-seekers

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The way we consume news has changed a lot over the last decade or so. Many people now get their information from social media sites, rather than actually sitting down with a broadsheet or watching a dedicated news channel. For many institutions, that’s not good. For the likes of Andile Mngxitama and Hlaudi Motsoeneng, it’s absolute bliss.

We’ve got two very different types of attention-seekers, here. One is seen as an extremist, with genuine intentions of harming certain citizens. The other is seen as more of a clown, only really a danger to himself. Nonetheless, both need shutting down: They’ve been fed the attention they crave for far too long, and we must all take responsibility.

Keeping Andile Mngxitama in the news

Hell, we’ll go first on this one. We’ve previously reported on Andile Mngxitama and the Black First Land First (BLF) movement. We know it’s a hot-button issue, and we’re fully aware that a lot of people want read about their activities. But at some point, we have to accept that constantly keeping BLF in the news narrative is ultimately harmful to South Africa.

They have shown on countless occasions that they are ready to rough-up and intimidate those they don’t agree with. Mngxitama himself has faced numerous cases of hate speech, and not repented. Why? Because he knows as well as anyone else that the worse his discourse gets, the better it will be for his organisation.

The fact is, the BLF are irrelevant until Mngxitama says something god-awful. Then his latest bile becomes headline news. That keeps them perpetuated in the political discussion, and once things go quiet, he’ll pop up with another outrageous statement.

We can do better, you can do better

We’ve not helped this situation by reporting on it, and although we’ve somewhat cooled off with “Andile-isms” over the past 12 months, it’s been too tempting not to comment on certain events.

But also, as South Africans, we’re ultimately responsible for people like him. We’re more likely to view a story that’s along the lines of “Controversial figure says something moronic”. It is fascinating and certainly draws in a reader, but it’s time to resist the temptation – because we’re all feeding a beast that’s had enough.

We’re making it a New Years’ resolution of ours – and hoping others follow suit – that we’ll no longer be rewarding this type of behaviour with the coverage it so desires. The only way to stop public figures from preaching hate is to simply stop giving them a platform. That way, their reach can be limited and the poison can be contained.

Hlaudi Motsoeneng and Andile Mngxitama – two peas in a pod?

In a similar vein, we’ve got Hlaudi Motsoeneng. He’s now got to the point where he believes he can be the president. Is his ego really that out of whack, though? Every time he’s spoken publicly, media outlets – yes, us too – have been all to happy to quote him and share his views.

If everything you say is apparently newsworthy, then it’s understandable that your ego inflates. It’s now our job – both as news providers and consumers – to perhaps consider who we’re talking about, and if we really need to keep them in a bubble of relevance.

On the periphery of these two supernovas are the likes of Julius Malema, #BlackMonday protesters and even Kessie Nair. For too long, people with nothing to say have been rewarded for saying nothing louder than those who bring something to the table.

So when someone decides to metaphorically piss themselves for attention again – by saying something abhorrent, or expressing unambiguously racist or discriminatory sentiments – let’s think twice about acknowledging it, shall we?

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