Inkatha Freedom Party MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa says he will not be giving interviews to news channels eNCA or eTV until management meets with him and revises its statement on the conduct of its journalist Lindsey Dentlinger.
Hlengwa said Dentlinger had apologised to him after insisting he kept his mask on during a Budget speech interview, although DA leader John Steenhuisen, who she had finished interviewing, wasn’t wearing a mask.
He said he and Dentlinger had a constructive and cordial discussion.
“In the spirit of nation building, I have accepted her apology and also agreed to meet with her next week. In that meeting, I intend to continue our conversation and point out to her the racial biases which characterised events around myself, [MPs] Advocate Bongo and Mr Nkwankwa,” Hlengwa said in an open letter to eNCA managing director Norman Munzhulele and eNCA managing editor John Bailey.
There was a public outcry earlier this week after Dentlinger had also asked UDM’s Nqabayomzi Kwankwa to keep his mask on while Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald had no mask on when she interviewed him before that.
On Friday, eNCA said that her “alleged inconsistent behaviour” to Covid-19 protocols “was not racially motivated or with malicious intent”.
It said that Dentlinger was a seasoned journalist who had more than 21 years of experience, including nine with eNCA.
Hlengwa said the statement “fell short of the reconciliatory spirit which has been the idealistic mainstay of our democratic discourse since 1994”. He added that it was riddled with “selectiveness and obfuscation”, granting further credit to the view of eNCA as “deliberately racist or sheepishly ignorant of its racism”.
He said he had informed his party leaders about his decision not to be interviewed by eNCA as IFP spokesperson and chairperson of Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa).
Furthermore, he requested a meeting with the news channel to discuss the mask issue, as failure to do so would be a “dereliction of duty” from both parties.
Meanwhile, the UDM said on Friday that it had laid a complaint with the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa and the South African Human Rights Commission.
“The fact that Mr Kwankwa was asked to do so [wear a mask] is not the crux of the matter, as South Africa deals with Covid-19, and the regulations must be obeyed. However, the UDM believes the racist double standard is, and as such, Mr Kwankwa was unfairly discriminated against, directly or indirectly, on the grounds of race, which is one of the most important tenets of the Constitution of this great country,” UDM president Bantu Holomisa said.