I saw this statement of German journalist Hanns-Joachim Friedrichs for the first time today: “You can recognize a good journalist in that he does not allow himself to be taken in by any cause – not even a good one. He is everywhere but never belongs”.
Friedrichs died in 1995. The following story would, I’m sure, have pleased him.
In 1995 I worked for Naspers, reporting from parliament for its newspapers. The new SA was about one year old and the ANC government still driven by principles. Many at Naspers were still struggling with the idea that the whites had handed political power to the blacks. Including my boss. In the four years I reported from parliament for his newspaper he summoned me to his office three times to tell me how unhappy he was with my work. My reports were “far too soft on the ANC government”, he always complained.
Every red carpet affair challenged me for days thereafter. Was I really such a bad journalist? I mean, I was there; I heard what was said; I made my judgment calls and wrote the story as I saw it. And now this experienced editor tells me I got it all wrong…
And then I was saved by a “Friedrichs moment”. There came a week in 1995 in which I was first summoned to the Naspers HQ by my boss to be told that I was too soft on the ANC, and then summoned by Thabo Mbeki, then deputy president of SA, to hear that I was too hard on the ANC.
In the same week.
That was when I knew I was getting it right: sailing straight down the middle, not belonging to anyone, not allowing myself to be drawn in by any cause. If that was the criterium, I was doing a better job at serving the community than my editor.
The stalemate in the Armsgate saga, starring SA’s ex-president Thabo Mbeki and featuring bribes for arms, will only be broken from outside South Africa. That’s been my gut feel for a while. A report in today’s Financial Times Deutschland (FTD) raised my hopes in this regard. [Read on]
When the opposition to Thabo Mbeki’s presidency came to a head in 2008, I sided with the group which wanted him out. (Click on tag “Thabo Mbeki” in the right column for articles on Mbeki, or simply look at this.)
This blog is really about hard news. More specifically, news made by South African businesses in Europe. But, every now and then I indulge in an opinion piece, or crystal ball gazing. And then get a helluva kick when my “forecasts” later turn out to be spot-on. [Read on]
My gut tells me the ANC won’t split, and this article is fuel on my fire. [Read on]
The Financial Times Deutschland (FTD) published a lengthy report on its international pages this morning under the headline “ANC faces split”. [Read on]
On 26/8/2008 the German DAX company MAN Ferrostaal published a comprehensive denial on its website of the claim made by The Sunday Times (on 10/8/2008) that MAN Ferrostaal had paid R30 million under the table to ex-president Thabo Mbeki in exchange for an arms contract.
And repeated its request that the newspaper publish a correction of the report containing the allegations – or face legal action. [Read on]
First published on my old blog on 12/8/2008.
Roughly nine days have elapsed since a South African newspaper published its first claims of bribery involving the SA president Thabo Mbeki and the German company MAN Ferrostaal on 3 August. [Read on]