By Carl Niehaus
Stratcom is Strategic Communications. This is a vicious media unit that was set up by the Apartheid Security Branch to manipulate the public and destroy the public image of their targets. Mama Winnie Mandela was a case in point.
The STRATCOM never died; it just evolved. Sam Sole, a former Apartheid Operative still roams the newsrooms, running Amabhungane Investigative Unit. The names of journalists who served Apartheid STRATCOM are kept under wraps, but many of them are still in the newsrooms.
The first thing STRATCOM needs is a political target. Once their eyes are set on a target, they then need stories to use to destroy their target. When the stories are set and ready to roll, the next step is coordination. Coordination or print, TV, radio, and digital media in order to destroy their target.
If you watched the STRATCOM in action this past Sunday when they went for ANC SG Ace Magashule, you would not differentiate between the papers. The City Press, Sunday Times, Rapport, and online newspapers all ran the same story. STRATCOM runs the same story on multiple platforms for impact and legitimisation of their propaganda. If you missed it on paper, you would catch it on your computer, or television. If you missed TV, radio awaits you.
But how do you get someone to believe something is true, even if there are no facts to support it? Present it as a rumour, or some form of “explosive” revelation. In South Africa, they take it a step further, publishing books to make a lie look legitimate.
STRATCOM relies on scale and coordination in their attack. If you go back to the last Sunday, almost all the commercial White Monopoly Capital journalists logged on to Twitter to support their fellow journalist – Myburgh. They all became echo chambers of Myburgh’s propaganda against Magashule. It gives it more legitimacy.
If you want to know how much trust to place on STRATCOM and their journalists, do not look further than Sunday Times and City Press. They are a regular customer at the Press Ombudsman with people calling them to retract their articles.
Sunday Times wrote extensively on the Rogue Unit and won awards for what was called groundbreaking coverage. Same applies with the Cator Manor story, extensively covered as well, they won awards for the story. The Zimbabwe Rendition story is another one.
However, just recently, the Sunday Times Editor Bongani Siqoko wrote a long apology to the nation, calling their own stories fake news. They even returned the awards they won for those “ground-breaking” stories.
STRATCOM is nothing but mainstream media behaving like Public Relations companies and their Apartheid equivalent – serving narrow interests of their masters. They do not care how much lives their lies destroy. They do not care about the families and careers their lies have destroyed or can destroy. They dedicated their entire lives at destroying Winnie Mandela, now they have new targets.
For STRATCOM, the end justifies the means.
People need to reject them with the contempt they deserve wherever they see them.