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Own correspondent, Johannesburg13 Apr 2001 00:00
PUBLIC threats directed at a journalist is the behaviour expected of thugs in Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party, and not of a spokesman of the African National Congress, says the man in the middle of a furore sparked by calling President Mbeki a womaniser.
Writing in his regular column in The Star newspaper, journalist Max du Preez said he was hardly saying something that had not been said in public before - and frequently discussed in Johannesburg black high society circles and the ANC itself in recent months.
Du Preez was part of a panel discussion on The Editors radio programme on Sunday.
His comments were published by The Citizen newspaper, resulting in accusations of racism and hate speech from ANC spokesman Smuts Ngonyama, and calls from party officials for a new law to ban insulting the president.
“I wasn’t making any moral judgement - I wasn’t even suggesting scandal. Winnie Mandela’s letter suggested scandal, not my remarks.”
Du Preez said the country’s political elite. Mbeki’s intelligence community and senior journalists “have known about this side of our president for a long time.
“But the citizens, the voters are kept in the dark. This happened during the previous regime too - journalists, politico’s and spooks knew of Cabinet members’ indiscretions and knew exactly which minister slept with whom and when and how it was covered up.
“I was one of very few who wrote about their scandals - can anyone remember that I was sued for defamation a dozen times by the former regime’s top brass, including the president?”
Du Preez questioned why South Africans should not now know about something “as important as a potential weakness of their head of state while most of the political and security operators know about it”.
“Do we really want to be like the former Zaire, where everybody knew about Mobutu sese Seko’s shenanigans, but it never appeared in a newspaper?”
Du Preez said he could understand that the president was upset. However, for ANC functionaries to issue statements that he was a racist who hated his country, was stupid and ridiculous.
ANC declares war on ?racist? Max April 11, 2001
CCMA rejects Du Preez claim July 27,1999
Du Preez remains fired April 21, 1999
Du Preez: Why they fired me April 21, 1999
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