The Daily Sun newspaper calls foreign migrants 'aliens' and takes a forthright 'South Africa first' stance. For this reason, it has been criticised for encouraging xenophobia.  Writing in the Mail & Guardian, publisher Deon du Plessis takes on the critics  and explains why his approach is more in tune with that of ordinary South Africans.

Deon du Plessis writes in the Mail & Guardian:

Batting for the home team…

That's what we do, nine times out of 10, at Daily Sun.

It may not be a very worldly view.

But then it's not intended to be … a worldly view that is.

What IS intended is that the People's Paper leaves its target audience in no doubt that they — South Africans — come first.

And when we started on this extraordinary ride nearly six years ago — our birthday is on July 1 — we clearly identified the ideal reader.

He is, of course, the Guy in the Blue Overall … the skilled working-class hero of the amazing boom in the middle of the South African market.

As he — and his partner — have prospered in recent years … so have we.

He's many things, our guy.

But he IS South African.

That's not to say that other kinds of people are not important … but from where we sit, our guy (and his partner as always) is MORE important.

That's where the Daily Sun's rubber — to mangle a metaphor — hits the market's hard tar.

So we've researched this guy every which way … and single-mindedly pursued him (and her!) wherever we find them.

Our views about South Africa First are clearly not wildly popular in august circles.

But then in august circles they have mostly not had to fight so hard for the good things in this life as our guy …

There is a lot of talk in these not-so-mythical and elevated circles about one Africa, one brotherhood, even one GIANT brotherhood (and sisterhood!) from the windy south to the blazing sands of the distant north.

In our market people are NOT so sure about all that …

That's because it's been a struggle …

Getting your own free-standing house, sitting on a little discretionary income for the first time ever, starting to travel a bit, getting the kid (now nine or 10) into something at least approaching an acceptable school, even buying a first car — these things have not been easy.

And that's because the dice have always been loaded against our hero.

In apartheid days the government didn't care.

These days, though the rhetoric has changed, it STILL seems the authorities often don't care.

The Guy in the Blue Overall even has the sense that many government heavyweights don't like him!

That's bizarre, but true.

From our guy's perspective, services have not improved … there are holes in the street, the cops are pretty much hit-and-miss, lots of hospitals are nasty, schools are not much better … and a distant national government seems to seek its friends elsewhere.

That's the gap we've taken here.

We have put our inky arms around our guy.

We defend him from crass and often useless officialdom, we advise him on getting ahead, we provide examples of how others like him have found success, we tell him about amazing things, hopefully we enthrall him … we give him stuff to talk about around the urns at tea break tomorrow morning on the nation's factory floors.

And, trust me on this, having struggled so hard since the days of the barricades in the early 90s when he was still a kid, our guy isn't about to give up any of his victories.

He doesn't have that luxury yet.

He's still on his way. He's pulling himself up … and he's proud that he's got so much further so much faster than his parents were ever able to do …

Will this neglect in high places, this distant hauteur, at last come to an end with, say, a Jacob Zuma government?

Too early to say.

Too early, in fact, to say if there WILL be a Jacob Zuma government.

But amid the uncertainty, the inflation, the crime, the neglect and all the other bad things, the Guy in the Blue Overall — from Musina to Gugulethu, knows that that the nation's biggest daily is right there, batting for him every day.

It MUST be true … it's in the business plan!

Even more important, it's also in our hearts …

* Du Plessis is publisher of the Daily Sun.  This article first appeared in the Mail & Guardian on June 6.