In an unexpected turn, the ANC has released a scathing criticism of a television news channel viewed as part of the politically-connected Gupta family’s propaganda machine.
The ruling party described ANN7 as a “mouthpiece of the factional divisions that plague the African National Congress”.
The ANC released the statement to counter reports by ANN7 that ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize, secretary general Gwede Mantashe and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa “pushed” President Jacob Zuma to attend labour federation Cosatu’s May Day rally in Bloemfontein on Monday.
Zuma was booed at the rally to such an extent that he made an early exit, abandoning a speech prepared for the rally. Cosatu ended the rally unexpectedly early because of anti-Zuma protests from its members.
The ANC, in its statement, denied that Mkhize, Mantashe and Ramaphosa “pushed” Zuma to attend the rally, saying the party had made a “collective decision”.
“Such reportage is habitual and typical of ANN7 – devoid of truth, divisive and designed to create an illusion of some ‘ANC insider’ status for the channel,” the ANC said.
It lays the blame at the news channel’s door for the divisions in the ANC, which have become more evident as the party prepares for its elective conference later this year. The Zuma faction is believed to back Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to lead the party, but Cosatu and other unions want Ramaphosa to become ANC president.
ANN7 has been widely criticised for reporting favourably on Zuma and the Gupta family. A former consulting editor at the channel told the Mail & Guardian that the editorial line is “dictated” to the station’s journalists. Although the intention is not to be obviously pro-Zuma, opposition to Zuma is shown in a negative light, said the former editor, Rajesh Sundaram.
This is the first time the ANC has spoken out against the Gupta-owned channel. In its statement, the ANC says it will not be “distracted” by “self-serving interests” that seek to make the party more vulnerable.
“The unity of the African National Congress remains paramount and our overriding ambition. We will not be distracted in this quest by narrow, self-serving interests whose motivations can only serve to further weaken the ANC,” the governing party said.