Gareth Cliff Has Been Fired from Idols SA

Gareth Cliff has been fired from Idols SA; the reason given by M-Net for disinviting him to be part of the show’s 12th season has been reported to be his lack of empathy for South Africa’s racist past in the wake of his comments following the Penny Sparrow Racist Facebook post. Google+

Gareth Cliff - Unathi and Randal Abrahams idolsGareth Cliff‘s tweet insinuated that the angry Twitter users who expressed their displeasure and unhappiness with Penny Sparrow’s branding of black South Africans as monkeys were unreasonable. He tweeted “People really don’t understand free speech at all:”. His tweet was accompanied by an attachment from a user named Roman Cabanac which read, “Deeply conservative and puritanical society we live in” which bore a picture which said “Mmusi Maimane says racist social media posts should criminalized. Others say this would be unconstitutional.”

The view of Twitter users is that Gareth Cliff suggested that Penny Sparrow was justified to call black South Africans monkeys as her remarks were protected under the freedom of speech. One Twitter user went on to define Penny Sparrow’s speech as not just any “speech” but “hate speech”. The issue of hate speech then suggested that Gareth Cliff expected black South Africans not to react because Penny Sparrow was well within her rights when she called them monkeys.

M-Net released a statement which read in part, “M-Net thanks Cliff for the critical role he has played in seeking out and developing new talent over the years and for contributing to the success of the show to date,” the channel said in a statement”. Gareth Cliff had been with Idols SA since when the show was entering its third season and was part of the judging panel (season 8) which saw the very first black person, Khaya Mthethwa, to be crowned a winner.

Although it was earlier reported that M-Net had not given a reason for disinviting Gareth Cliff to be part of Idols SA season 12 judging panel the channel has since clarified essentially confirmed what was already rife speculation;

Over the last few months following Unathi’s indiscretions on social media, we have been in discussions with our judges, presenters and talent to sensitise them to the risks of using social media. All the Idols SA judges were reminded that M-Net holds all brand ambassadors and employees to the highest standards in our ongoing efforts to promote and build a modern and inclusive South Africa.

“Unfortunately we then had to deal with Somizi’s inappropriate comments and following the latest issue, we have now implemented a zero tolerance policy for all social media posts that go against the spirit of nation-building. This policy will apply to everyone associated with our brands going forward.

“We do not believe that Gareth is a racist but his response showed a lack of empathy for our history and it is important to differentiate between freedom of speech and hate speech. Penny Sparrow’s comments were hateful. Hate speech is not applicable with regard to freedom of speech.”

Gareth Cliff apologized for his remarks days before he was fired, his apology read; “I’ve been an insensitive asshole many times. This whole saga with the idiotic comments of Penny Sparrow has upset me, but I must acknowledge the “pain and anger of so many on Twitter who thought I would in any way condone the things she said. If you thought I was on the side of a racist,

“I assumed we were all already in agreement about how you can’t stand up FOR racism. If I didn’t make it clear, I apologise – sincerely. “With regard to free speech and hate speech, I nee to continue my education. G.”

Down the years Gareth Cliff has butted heads with the best of them on Twitter and radio including question the funeral of Senzo Meyiwa – a slain goalkeeper of Orlando Pirates who captained the senior national side just before his death. The funeral of Senzo Meyiwa was declared by President Jacob Zuma a “Official Provincial Funeral” but this did not stop Gareth Cliff from asking who was paying, a move which was viewed by Twitter users as trouble-mongering particularly at the time when many people are unhappy with how the state misuses money.


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  1. Rio

    it simply shows that all south Africans whu stil talk apartheid language are not ready to live in our country and they havnt made peace with their emotions. they must be sent outside the country an their id must be destroyed.

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