Faced with libel and racism, Sergio Vieira cuts ties with “Domingo”

One of the senior intellectuals in Mozambique’s ruling Frelimo Party, Sergio Vieira, has announced that he is ceasing all collaboration with the Sunday paper “Domingo”, to which he has contributed a weekly column for the past 20 years.

Vieira was a founder member of Frelimo, and worked closely with Frelimo’s first president, Eduardo Mondlane, and with his successor, Samora Machel. After Mozambican independence he held several senior government positions, including Agriculture Minister and Security Minister. He was one of Frelimo’s main orators in the first two multi-party parliaments, from 1995 to 2004.

Vieira was thus surprised to find himself attacked in opinion articles in “Domingo”, alongside other people with an illustrious history in the liberation struggle, including three former members of the Frelimo Political Bureau under Samora Machel – namely Marcelino dos Santos, Jorge Rebelo and Oscar Monteiro. All the people attacked in the pseudonymous articles are of mixed race or Asian origin.

In his resignation letter published on Sunday, Vieira said he had noticed for some time that the paper “was steering between dignity and submission to more or less obscure interests, with articles appearing that are clearly racist in their tendency, and low slanders, attempts to denigrate the dignity and honour of those who deserve better”.

Vieira says he spoke personally to the director of “Domingo”, Jorge Matine, on 25 October. Matine assured him of his personal sorrow that racist and defamatory articles had appeared in the paper. Vieira asked him for the paper to print a public apology. He promised to do so, but “Domingo” has published no such apology.

Vieira noted that some of the “Domigo” articles derive from other publications. That would be normal practice if the orginal source was serious. But he thought it “absurd to copy articles, without mentioning where they come from. It is extremely serious when these plagiarisms are intended to spread libels and racism which appeared earlier in third rate rags”.

“It does not make sense”, he added, “that, in order to reply to or comment on an article, a report or an interview that appeared in some other publication, ‘Domingo’ becomes the mouthpiece of vileness and cowardice”.

In the strongest part of his letter, Vieira accuses “Domingo” of tending not merely towards racism, but towards fascism. “When the paper plagiarises (because it does not cite the source) articles that are clearly racist and defamatory, it is taking a new editorial line, which seems to me to be heading in a fascist direction”.

“I don’t question anybody’s right to hold opinions, but there is no right to spread racist and libelous opinions”, he said. “With the end of colonialism and of apartheid, we all believed in the valuing of our Mozambican identity, resting both on diversity and on principles. I don’t believe that anyone becomes grand by pushing other people down”.

“In royal courts there sometimes appear poor wretches who believe they ought to burn incense to their leaders, forgetting that you can’t hide the truth with clouds of incense”, Vieira added. “The petty boot-lickers think they are guaranteeing their own rise to monetary, state or political power. They are short-sighted”.

Vieira adds that he will sue “Domingo” for publishing a plagiarized article accusing him of trafficking in precious stones, and will end all collaboration with a paper that is now subverting the principles for which it once fought.

Post published in: Africa News

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