Independent to deal with suspended reporters

The African National Congress in the Western Cape says it has not decided whether to investigate rumours that two senior newspaper journalists were secretly being paid to boost provincial premier Ebrahim Rasool’s image.

“Maybe we can consider that, but we have not taken such a decision,” provincial secretary Mcebisi Skwatsha said in response to questions at a media briefing on Tuesday.

Political editor Joseph Aranes and senior reporter Ashley Smith were suspended last week by the Cape Argus pending the outcome of an investigation launched by editor Ivan Fynn.

Skwatsha said the issue had been discussed by the ANC provincial executive, but not at any length.

“It is quite interesting to find journalists of this seniority being suspended,” he said.

“As we said, we must watch this space. So we’ll be following it with interest.”

He added that since South Africa became a “free country”, the ANC no longer had the capacity it used to have for investigations.

“Our capacity of investigation has been absorbed into NIA [the National Intelligence Agency] and all the other structures.”

He said Independent Newspapers, of which the Argus is part, was dealing with the issue, and if the ANC got “further guidance”, it might take specific action.

It was public knowledge that the ANC provincial leadership had visited the Cape Argus in August to raise concerns about “a particular slant in reporting”, but he was not sure if the suspension of the two journalists was related to this.

He could only hope there would be some transparency from Independent Newspapers on what the suspension was about, and outcomes. - Sapa

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