/ 18 August 2009

ANC lays complaint over City Press, Sunday Times articles

The African National Congress (ANC) has lodged a formal complaint with the press ombudsman about articles in the Sunday Times and the City Press, the party said on Tuesday.

The articles in the weekly papers were illustrative of an abuse of press freedom, ANC spokesperson Jessie Duarte said in a statement.

The City Press article appeared on the front page on August 16, reporting on deteriorating relations between Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and ANC treasurer general Mathews Phosa.

”… the newspaper failed to report news truthfully, accurately and fairly. In failing to adhere to provisions of the PCPP [Press Code of Professional Practice], City Press has chosen to use ‘sources’ to back up a fabrication of facts in an attempt to create sensation”, Duarte said.

The Sunday Times article appeared on August 9. It said criticism of President Jacob Zuma’s appointment of ”minorities” to strategic economic posts was a ”debate raging within official party structures”.

The report said ANC bigwigs Nathi Mthethwa, Lindiwe Sisulu and Tony Yengeni were among those who questioned the appointments.

”Elevating claims of unnamed sources to the status of the fact and failing to come up with any supporting fact represents a blatant departure from the norms and standards expected of media institutions of the stature of City Press and Sunday Times,” she said.

This ”type of sensational journalism” served only to give the respected profession a bad name, she said, adding that the ANC had never and did not intend to muzzle the press.

”The ANC calls on media houses to do introspection on adherence to ethics and the PCPP,” she said.

The party expected ”factual and unbiased reporting, which does not border on sensationalism or defamation of character” from the media.

Sunday Times editor Mondli Makhanya said he had no comment and City Press editor Ferial Haffajee was not immediately available to comment. — Sapa