Until Sunday – three days after the killing of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi – it appeared that South African media was lacking in coverage of this momentous event.
While there has been saturated coverage largely focused on gruesome images of Gaddafi’s final moments and the equally grotesque scenes of his dead body in a make-shift morgue, media failure to provide context and substance was glaring indeed!
That is until Sunday when columnist Lihle Z Mtshali shattered South African media’s lily-white approach to all things American, with her brilliant analysis.
Incidentally, Mtshali is based in New York and her clinical prognosis of who the ultimate profiteers are of Gaddafi’s removal, is brave, bold and in the face!
Her analysis – albeit brief, is a refreshing reminder to all media practitioners and political commentators of the courageous choice many journalists had made during the apartheid era to speak truth to power!
By sketching scenes of jubilation within corridors of American political power, Mtshali raises one of the most fundamental questions that seems to have eluded South African media: "Nobody will come out and honestly say why, as of September 30, the US Department of Defence had spent $1.1-billion on operations in Libya and why the country is now raising its fist and shouting la victoire at the death of Gaddafi".
She explains that the real reasons are masked in news headlines.
"The blood had not even dried on Gaddafi’s gunshot wound when US media started screaming that his death would clear the way for oil exports. Of course, that, and not ‘the freedom of the Libyan people’ is America’s main concern".
Though the gloating from the Obama administration was not as glaring as when Osama bin Laden was killed, the US president did proudly declare that the killing of Gaddafi came "at a time when we see the strength of American leadership across the world".
Mtshali’s view on the real reasons for US/NATO involvement in ousting Gaddafi and imposing a western-allied interim government is fortunately reflected among the many callers on numerous radio talk-shows, in spite of the veil drawn by mainstream media that shields America’s motives.
It is encouraging to observe that propaganda, especially in the case of America’s flimsy claim to support "the freedom of the Libyan people", is seen for what it is: propaganda!
The desire by NATO and America along with Britain and France to have the Transitional National Council remain as unelected allies able and willing to facilitate ownership transfer of Libya’s oil resources, is perhaps the best signal that regime change had zero connection with democracy.
The question for us in the Media Review Network is thus whether South Africa’s mainstream media will interrogate US motives in Libya and its military ambitions in Africa via sinister operations such as Africom?
If so, when will we begin to see incisive analysis, editorials and Mtshali-type opinions?