Simon Ndong: Humour gone awry: A post sparks freedom of speech debate in South Africa

In recent days, social media has been ablaze with discussions over a screenshot posted by the blogger RUMANI on the platform X. This image, originating from the Instagram account of RUMANI, depicted the DA leader John Steenhuisen with their complexion altered to a darker tone. This alteration has been suggested to criticize the politician’s perceived lack of awareness and understanding of the issues affecting their constituents, leading to substantial public backlash.

However, the response from the social media platform X to this screenshot has stirred even more controversy. Instead of objectively reviewing the situation, the platform chose to block RUMANI’s account, a move many saw as a violation of freedom of speech. Under the pretext of rule violations, it is worth noting that the post only contained a screenshot from the politician’s Instagram and a lighthearted, non-offensive caption. However, the influx of complaints, presumably from representatives of the Democratic Alliance, seems to have influenced the platform’s decision, once again highlighting the issue of freedom of expression and speech in the online space.

In response to this situation, bloggers and social media users have launched a campaign under the hashtag #saynotoda, leading to an explosion of posts on the scandal. Formerly known as Twitter, the platform X is now being flooded with an increasing number of messages expressing dissatisfaction with the politician’s behavior and supporting the fight against racism.
Social media users accuse the Democratic Alliance of racism, pointing out that most of the party’s leadership is comprised of white individuals. The party has repeatedly faced accusations of racism and similar scandals, which, according to users, lead to distrust of the party and calls not to vote for it.

Considering this, it is important to emphasize that freedom of speech is a crucial component of society, but it should not be used to support racist or discriminatory ideas. The Democratic Alliance should take responsibility for the actions of its official, apologize to the public, and refrain from suppressing freedom of speech, which is one of the fundamental principles of democracy. Ultimately, only by upholding these principles can society move forward towards a more just and tolerant future.

Simon Pierre Esono Ndong
Writes from South Africa.
rkassavugu@gmail.com

Simon Ndong: Humour gone awry: A post sparks freedom of speech debate in South Africa

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