Friday, 16 November 2007 has now become a battlefield for Mail & Guardian editor and Ronald Suresh Roberts!

Blogs are not only used by people to report news, analysis, press releases, opinions and comments. They are now or can be used by people as battlefield!

Although this might be different, it is however nearly the same. South African President Thabo Mbeki uses his weekly newsletter to attack the South African media and other institutions and whomever he sees as a “canard.” According to Mbeki, canard is “a piece of news/a story that is false and is told to people deliberately in order to harm someone.”

And many people continue to use their communication medium or blogs as a platform of attacking their peers or whoever they please or see fit!

Although I have this blog, I do not use it to attack people as others have used theirs. Or maybe I did attack a high profile and didn’t realize that until you warned me. Or maybe I don’t but hey – that’s your opinion and so is what I say and writer about! This is South Africa – remember?

To this day or at least today, I have learned that blogs can become a source of attack on other people or can be used as a way of attacking other people’s opinions.

Why do you attack other people’s opinions when you are entitled to yours – especially when you live in South Africa?

If Thabo Mbeki can use ANC Today to say whatever he wants to say about whoever and see fit – surely anyone can do the same?

This is exactly what the Mail & Guardian, Ferial Haffajee did. On her blog at, she attacked Ronald Suresh Roberts. This is after according to Haffajee – Robert called Mondli Makhanya, former Mail & Guardian editor and Sunday Times editor a “chicken” in his blog. “He really belongs on a lesser blogging platform,” said Haffajee.

In his blog, Roberts, says “Mail & Guardian editor Ferial Haffajee pronounced herself “flabbergasted” by how many champions of free speech seek to shut down certain voices. She reminded these pseudo-liberals that: “Commitment to principles like freedom of expression will always be tested by your tolerance for views that run counter to your own.”

While Haffajee responds in hers by saying “He is a peddler of lies and of tiny bits of gossip, usually incorrect, gleaned from coffee-shop chit-chat.”

Roberts said:

If the plight of Percy Qoboza and so many of those banned and jailed in 1977 was
a tragedy, Makhanya has brought those times back as farce. While the South
African National Editors’ Forum commemorated the Black Wednesday bannings
with a restrained and moving function in Midrand, Makhanya opted to attend
the lavish Sandton banquet of the Black Management Forum.

“I certainly have nothing against the BMF. I actually spoke at the conference. But
you would think that, in assessing the diary clash between the BMF glitz and the
Sanef free-speech commemoration, Makhanya would have favoured Sanef as I did.
But he didn’t. He also chicken-hawked out of the Sanef panel discussion at the
Sandton Convention Centre the following week. The week after that came a panel
at the Human Rights Commission and again Makhanya was absent, albeit this time
with an apparently good excuse: minutes before he was to appear, he cited a
family bereavement.”
Haffajee says “Mondli’s mother-in-law died that week”, and that’s why he could not be available at the conference. “He should check his facts…” warned Haffajee!

Is this going to change the image of blogs in South Africa and how is this likely to happen internationally?

Haffajee concludes that: “Mondli is a much-loved former editor of the Mail & Guardian; he is a highly respected South African and a revolutionary to boot. I would prefer that Thought Leader is not used to malign and insult him, but if he is maligned and insulted, know that we, his former colleagues, will not sit shivering silently in fear of the wrath of Ronald. He is a paper tiger.”

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