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The ANC blasts the M&G for making ‘spurious, unsubstantiated, despicable claims’, to which the paper responds that the party is paranoid because its reports are not plucked out of thin air
In the weeks leading up to the ANC’s national general council (NGC) there has been a pattern of reporting emanating from a particular weekly newspaper [read: the Mail & Guardian] that has at its core the vilification of ANC president Jacob Zuma and other leaders of the party. This vilification has, in the main, been sourced from faceless, nameless ghost sources.
The said newspaper has consistently made allegations to the effect that the ANC Youth League, Cosatu and some faceless members of the ANC Veterans’ League, as well as some faceless members of the ANC national executive committee (NEC), are no longer supporting Zuma as the president of the ANC and the president of South Africa.
The said newspaper raised these claims without a shred of evidence from the leadership of the organisations mentioned—again, all these claims were sourced from ghosts.
The ANC would like to restate that all its NEC-elected members are elected for a five-year period.
In recent weeks this weekly paper has made claims to the effect that visits to provinces by president Zuma prior to the NGC had been fuelled by “paranoia on the side of the president, emanating from alleged plots to unseat him and other ANC leaders at the NGC”. Had the paper in question asked the ANC, it would have established that the visit to provinces by Zuma was an ANC NEC decision.
President Zuma, as the head of the ANC, has a duty to consolidate the Imvuselelo campaign in all provinces, ensuring that come 2012 the ANC has a minimum of a million members. Equally, Zuma, with other members of the NEC, including Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, secretary general Gwede Mantashe, head of mobilisation and campaigns Fikile Mbalula and head of political education Tony Yengeni, has indeed visited provinces, regions and branches of the ANC to help them prepare for the NGC and to engage with the discussion documents of the NGC. It is therefore untrue that the president visits provinces to amass support for himself. These allegations are an insult to the ANC. In fact, some of the visits to the provinces and branches were at the request of these ANC structures.
Again, in recent times, this weekly has alleged that president Zuma has not been an honest broker in trying to end the public service strike. It has made the claim that the instruction and guidance by Zuma to the negotiating ministers to do anything they can to resolve the impasse and the deadlock was fuelled by his desire to entrench his power base.
This weekly failed to read ANC statements that have consistently called for the government and the public sector unions to resolve the strike in the interests of the South African public. It did not register to this weekly that the genuine concern of the president on the strike and his instructions to his ministers were, indeed, a genuine restatement of the ANC position on the matter. At any rate, President Zuma is the president of the ANC, and even in meetings of the national working committee (NWC) and the NEC he has consistently raised his concerns about the impact of the strike on ordinary South Africans.
This weekly has also in recent times, as its attack on ANC leaders and the president has reached a crescendo, again relying on ghost sources, made spurious, unsubstantiated and despicable claims about the leadership of the ANC by suggesting that there are anti-Zuma groupings within the party leadership.
The paper makes insulting, unsubstantiated and irresponsible claims to the effect that Motlanthe is leading the grouping called “the New Frontier”, which includes Tokyo Sexwale, Lindiwe Sisulu and Zwelinzima Vavi. The ANC would like to dismiss these claims with the contempt they deserve. This is not only an insult to the ANC and its character of collective leadership, it is also an insult to the integrity of the deputy president and all the leaders of the ANC mentioned.
The paper also makes unsubstantiated allegations and very irresponsible claims, again relying on ghost sources, that members of another grouping, which they call “the coalition of the wounded”, within the leadership of the ANC are not satisfied with the positions they hold in government. This grouping includes Siphiwe Nyanda, Fikile Mbalula and Julius Malema—despite a rejection of this notion by Siphiwe Nyanda.
The ANC would like to put it on record that the president of the ANC Youth League, Julius Malema, made it clear long before the advent of the 2009 elections that he would not be going to Parliament or Cabinet and that he would remain at Luthuli House. Cadres such as Siphiwe Nyanda and Fikile Mbalula understand that their deployment is at the behest of the ANC. At no stage did any of them approach the said newspaper or any of its ghost sources to indicate dissatisfaction with their deployment.
This weekly, not satisfied with seeking to cause divisions within the ANC and its leadership, was able to “read the president’s mind” regarding his intention to reshuffle the Cabinet and remove three women ministers and a male minister. It unashamedly wrote the names of the ministers “that are to be reshuffled”, causing untold anxiety not only to the ministers but also to their families and the Cabinet of Jacob Zuma. Again, in this instance, they relied on ghost sources, who even told this newspaper that the president would bring such “reshuffle thoughts” to the NGC. What a trash!
It is quite evident that this particular weekly has made up all these ghost stories with the intention of politically poisoning ANC membership before the NGC. It is also quite clear from the above reports and others not mentioned that the intention of this newspaper is to create an atmosphere through which the ANC leadership can be vilified at the NGC, particularly our president.
The ANC wants to restate its position that the NGC will be the biggest political school in the southern hemisphere and its main focus will be to review the progress made since the last elective conference in 2007. Our branches, regions and provinces are seized with preparations for the NGC, through regional general councils (RGCs) and provincial general councils (PGCs) that are engaging critically with the discussion documents that will be at the core of the NGC.
There is therefore no amount of vilification of our leaders by any newspaper and no amount of political poisoning of our membership that will succeed.
We want to restate and assure the said weekly that the NGC will not be diverted from fulfilling its constitutional mandate by any irresponsible reporting. Our members and our leaders and our alliance partners and all progressive forces invited to the NGC will converge in Durban from September 20 to 24 to do exactly what the ANC constitution expects of them - review progress made since 2007.
The ANC can come to only one conclusion: that these extreme levels of gutter journalism on the part of the said weekly newspaper are fuelled by a political motive that is guaranteed to meet its Waterloo at the NGC of the ANC. Just as these attempts to vilify our leaders have failed before, they will again fail at the NGC and at any gathering of our membership, including the 2012 elective conference.
We once again raise the question: Who protects us from such gutter and sensational journalism? What is our recourse?
Jackson Mthembu is the ANC’s national spokesperson
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