Supersport to Release ‘Ashwin Willemse’ Findings Tomorrow: Editors Opinion

As reported by News24, Supersport has announced that it will reveal the findings of the ’independent’  review into the ‘Ashwin Willemse walk-off saga’ on Tuesday, June 19 at 15:00. However, the question is, how independent is this review?

My scepticism emanates from the seemingly ‘bias’ reporting done by News24, reporting that was supposedly based on leaks from insiders. As to why leaks seem to only land on the desks of News24 journalists, we do not know, but we can make assumptions as to why this is the case.

News24 is the sister company of DSTV, which in turn is the owner of Supersport. Both News24 and DSTV are owned by Naspers, a company that was built on the proceeds of apartheid. Not only did Naspers benefit from apartheid, but it also sustained apartheid through its media empire and through its support of the National Party (read Daily Maverick article HERE). To this very day, there is very little diversity within its top structures and there is constant whisperings about how its management undermines the progress of persons of colour.

It could be argued that after 24 years of democracy, we have to let go off the past and stop using apartheid as a point of reference. However, in order to let go of the past, there has to be an effort by all parties to remedy the inequalities of this past.

As a Coloured, I am willing to let go of the past, but when I see an untransformed entity like Naspers, then it makes no sense to ignore the fact that Naspers has not let go of the past. Its vastly untransformed upper management suggests that it not only holds onto its glorious apartheid past, but also cultivates a culture that encourages ‘undermining’ persons of colour through a barrage of ‘condescending’ behaviour.

Getting back to my scepticism, it would not unreasonable to assume that Supersport, through DSTV, feeds information to its sister company, News24. News24 in turn structures its reporting in a way that defends and upholds this culture. Over the past few weeks, when this information (relating to the Ashwin matter) was supposedly leaked to News24 journalists, the narrative that was being pushed was that the problem lies with Ashwin, and it has nothing to do with the racist culture that runs throughout Naspers.

This narrative was once again pushed today by News24’s Rob Houwing. In a headline that read, ‘Ashwin no-show shock as SuperSport probe submitted’, he pushes the narrative that Ashwin was once again, at fault, and that Naas Botha and Nick Mallet are in fact, the victims in the matter. He confidently states that Naas and Nick will be reinstated because of their inevitable innocence and then suggests in a condescending tone that as a consolation prize, Ashwin might get some Supersport job, somewhere. It should be noted that Houwing has, throughout their tenures as Springbok coaches, been vehemently and passionately opposed to the appointments of Peter de Villiers and Allister Coetzee. He has however, been very supportive of perhaps one of the worst coaches in Springbok history, Heyneke Meyer.

The point is, when you hear the announcement by Supersport tomorrow, take it with a pinch of salt and consider all the facts that have been outlined above. There is no point in pretending that the condescending tone of Rob Howing is not part of the Naspers and Supersport culture. Yes, let us move past apartheid and look to the future, but let us do this as equal partners, and not as slaves to condescending masters.

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