Journalist’s contract terminated for calling Zuma a zombie
A South African-based Indian radio presenter at Lotus FM, Ravi Govender on Friday was sacked for posting an offending comment on his Facebook page, calling Jacob Zuma, the President of South Africa, a zombie and an uneducated creature.
“Just heard a Zombie Zuma giving a speech on the news, massacring the beautiful English language,” partly read the comment.
“Uneducated creature, even the other moron Mugabe (the President of Zimbabwe) speaks much better,” Govender added as he posted on his Facebook page, which post was later deleted after the unpleasant results.
According to media reports, it was confirmed that the Indian radio presenter was fired by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) from his working place (Lotus FM), and his contract was terminated.
“Radio Lotus Presenter Ravi Govender’s contract was terminated with immediate effect because of concerns that he had brought the public broadcaster to disrepute,” SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago was quoted saying.
“It also had nothing to do with the comments being about the President. Whatever you do in the public space, you carry the platform (TV channel, radio station) with you. So, you must behave according to the contract agreed upon,” further explained Kganyago.
Speaking about his termination on Wednesday, Ravi Govender said that his life is now changed because of one post.
“All of this happened in one day. One post changed the course of my life. Lotus FM was a sizeable chunk of income, but what is more important to me is my fans and the medium of radio, I’m going to miss that. I went 12 years without missing a single show,” Ravi Govender said expressing his feeling.
“I don’t know what I am going to do. I’m trying to see what option there are, but if I did get my job back, I would be harassed and under scrutiny all the time, and that is not how I would like to work,” he continued.
Govender posting this “in anger” as he pleads, was after Zuma’s opening speech at the governing African National Congress (ANC) policy conference at Nasrec in the main city, Johannesburg, on Friday
“I posted that on Facebook out of anger. I should have known better,” Govender said apologizing.
“I am not racist. It (English) is not his (Zuma) first language, but speak in Zulu and get an interpreter. I said zombie because he sounded like a zombie to me. I have apologized and there is nothing more I can do. I am wrong, I should not have said it,” he continued in his apologizing statement posted to replace the previous insulting post.
On reading the insulting comment from Facebook, Edward Zuma, the son of President Jacob Zuma immediately lashed out at Govender and said that his family was horrified.
“What’s the difference with calling blacks monkeys to calling them zombies? Let us lay charges at Equality Court for hate speech,” said Edward Zuma.
In addition, Edward also informed journalists that his family didn’t and failed to understand what provoked him (Govender) to make the statement.
“We fail as a family to understand what exactly prompted Ravi Govender to make such a statement referring to our father as a zombie! Is this still freedom of speech?” said Edward.
“We believe that this is the worst form of abuse of democracy that many of our leaders fought so hard to achieve,” Edward concluded.
Reporter: Shamilah Namuddu