DA takes offence over ‘stunning accusation’

The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Wednesday called on African National Congress (ANC) chief whip Mathole Motshekga to apologise for “false claims” he made about the DA.

The DA said it was truly astounded by the statement issued on Tuesday by Motshekga claiming that the DA would be dispensing cash parcels to ANC MPs to influence their votes on the Protection of Information Bill, DA chief whip Ian Davidson said.

“This is completely mendacious; at no time did any DA official ever claim that ANC members would in any way be paid for their votes; nor will we do so,” he said.

As such, it was highly irresponsible and utterly inappropriate behaviour from one of the most senior parliamentary figures of the governing party.

“Indeed, it is especially ironic given that the ANC’s entire justification for a media tribunal is that the media supposedly makes irresponsible and unsubstantiated claims …,” Davidson said.

The implication, then, was that the media, supposedly, suffered from low ethical standards.

“So then, what indeed are the ANC’s ethical standards? I shall be writing to Mr Motshekga asking him to either substantiate his claims or to apologise,” he said.

Serious accusation
To suggest that a political party would bribe other members of Parliament to further its interests was a serious accusation indeed.

“We in the DA know that this accusation is completely without foundation and we must ask what the basis of Mr Motshekga’s stunning accusation is.”

One would hope that before the governing party’s chief whip issued a statement of this magnitude that he had definite evidence to substantiate his claims.

Naturally, this would be a default ethical criterion. The ANC’s entire campaign against the media with its proposed media tribunal was premised on the notion that South Africa’s press was supposedly frequently guilty of making unsubstantiated claims and accusations and thus supposedly behaved in an irresponsible manner.

“Indeed, we have heard one ANC figure after another make statements to this effect,” Davidson said.

“How ironic and pertinent, then, that even as the ANC claims it should be deciding what does and does not constitute ethical behaviour on the press’s behalf, that it demonstrates its own utter disavowal of ethics in making maliciously false and unsubstantiated statements of its own.”

Thus, several questions needed to be asked. Did the ANC’s call for professional and responsible conduct in making accusations apply to everyone but themselves? Did the ANC’s chief whip believe that making unsubstantiated claims was acceptable? Most importantly, if not, how did Motshekga square his own behaviour with the accusations that the ANC had directed towards the press?

“Of course, we know that there is no foundation to the statement whatsoever.

“Mr Motshekga simply made it up as he went along, knowing full well that the accusation often screams louder than the verdict. He ought to apologise unreservedly,” Davidson said.

‘Dirty tricks’
Responding later on Wednesday, Motshekga’s office denied he owed the DA an apology “for saying that their dirty tricks to woo MPs to vote with them on the Protection of Information Bill could include ‘cash parcels'”.

“Their decision to bypass open parliamentary platforms in favour of employing secret means to trick MPs has given rise to speculations as to what methods they’ll use.

“The rumours circulating include the claim that the DA could be using cash parcels.”

The onus was on the DA to distance itself from the “dirty tricks announced by its leaders” Helen Zille and Athol Trollip and utilise available parliamentary processes to convince the people about the correctness of their position, Motshekga’s office said. — Sapa

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