The civil rights organisation AfriForum today reported the news website The Huffington Post South Africa to the Press Ombudsman. The Editor Verashni Pillay is also reported in the same complaint. The complaint deals with The Huffington Post South Africa’s publication and defence of an article named “Could it be time to deny white men the franchise?” In the article an argument is put forward that white men must be denied their voting right for 20 to 30 years in order to rectify imbalances.
The article was criticised worldwide, after which Pillay not only defended The Huffington Post’s decision to publish the article, but also the content thereof. Pillay described the article as “pretty standard feminist theory” and alluded that those protesting against the article are only doing so because they themselves are racist or sexist. The underlying argument of the article is described by Pillay as “blindingly obvious to us”. In the meantime Sipho Hlongwane, Editor of blogs at The Huffington Post South Africa, bragged on Twitter about the number of visits that The Huffington Post is getting as a result of this article and made fun of people who are complaining about it.
In the article an argument is put forward that white men must be blamed for a chain of political events that are described as “blows to the progressive cause”. This includes Brexit and the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America (USA), as well as the fact that the DA governs in four of South Africa’s cities. The article also contains a series of errors of fact, such as that white people own 90% of the country’s wealth, that white men own 97% of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and that 90% of America’s assets are owned by 10% of Americans. In the article white men are also blamed for the global recession of 2008, as well as colonialism, slavery and genocide. Subsequently the argument is put forward that white men must be denied of their right to vote for 20 to 30 years.
Ernst Roets, Deputy CEO of AfriForum, says that The Huffington Post and various members of its editorial team, which includes Pillay and Hlongwane, are abusing the news website to conduct an ideological campaign. “The international condemnation of this article not only caused great damage to the credibility of The Huffington Post South Africa, but also The Huffington Post as international platform and the South African press in general.”
AfriForum made an appeal to the Press Ombudsman to declare that the article, the publication thereof and specifically also the defence thereof by The Huffington Post South Africa be declared a transgression of The Huffington Post’s own regulations, the press code and the Constitution. AfriForum also requested that The Huffington Post and Pillay apologise to white men and everyone who took exception to the offensive nature of the article and Pillay’s defence thereof.
The article was in the meantime removed from The Huffington Post’s website for the sole reason that the identity of the author could not be confirmed. “The defence of The Huffington Post South Africa regarding the content of the article, through Pillay, can thus still be regarded as the news website’s official stance regarding this issue,” says Roets.
- The complete complaint which AfriForum submitted to the Press Ombudsman is available on request.