/ 20 April 2012

M&G invented story about my Cope departure

I totally reject the ruling by the press ombudsman on my complaint about the Mail & Guardian article on my resignation from the Congress of the People (Cope). The article was very damaging to me, not to mention callous and hurtful. It was based on nothing but the journalist’s fertile imagination and her use of gossip to substantiate the nonsense she peddled.

The fact that the editor of the M&G admitted to the ombud that it did not publish my denial of the fabrication that I had had a “falling-out” with Mosiuoa Lekota is proof of the falsity of the article.

In addition, I did not appeal for funds for my divorce, but to fight to get my daughter back after her mother abducted her. The journalist ignored my correction to this nonsense.

I know from my own sources that the editor and the journalist who wrote the article are determined to find something on me, even if they make it up, ever since I decided to rejoin the ANC. In their minds, all people join the ANC for financial gain. The fact that I have given up a paid job as an MP for a principle seems to be of no interest to them, because it does not fit their “all ANC members are corrupt” template.

I stated clearly why I had resigned from Cope. In my view, the party had failed in its mission. It was an ill-conceived project and could not help further the national democratic revolution.

I was not prepared to continue to draw a salary from the taxpayers of this country if I could give no value to them. The innuendo that there was some other motive for my resignation is defamatory. No proof for this assertion has been provided, which speaks volumes about the “sources” the journalist claims informed her.

I decided to exercise the right to reply because the press ombudsman is proving to be a useless, toothless institution. It is tame and biased towards the press — little wonder that public figures are calling for the media to be regulated by statute. The ombud process is protracted, the rulings bizarre and the consequences for shoddy journalism (which the M&G seems to be specialising in under the current editor) are irrelevant, as witnessed in this case.

The press should not complain when there is a backlash to the kind of fabricated nonsense it passes off for news. By the time there is a response from the ombud, even if it is in the complainant’s favour, the damage to one’s reputation has been done and is hard to repair.

The M&G, through innuendo and character assassination, led people to believe I had ulterior motives in rejoining the ANC. I had to waste valuable time and resources to defend myself when I had a far more important battle to fight.

I have no recourse. That’s what makes the current media dispensation problematic. I believe in a free press, but when journalists dress up gossip as news, and individuals have no recourse against this abuse of power, something is wrong with the system.

For the press ombudsman’s judgment in the Dexter matter, go to mg.co.za/dexter