The Mail & Guardian apologises unreservedly for alleging in its January 25 2013 edition that Moeletsi Mbeki had conducted a “dirty BEE deal” with the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa).
In the story titled “Survey sparks feud at Mbeki forum”, we reported that Moeletsi Mbeki, founder of the Forum for Public Dialogue (FPD), was accused of blocking the release of a shop steward survey in order to protect his business interests.
Key to these allegations was a letter that then FPD chief executive Prince Mashele wrote to the FPD board. In it, he accused Mbeki of protecting a “dirty BEE deal” he was pursuing with Numsa’s investment company. The M&G quoted the statement from Mashele’s letter and attributed it to Mashele without endorsing it.
The M&G should have taken steps to verify the claim. In addition, the M&G ought to have taken further steps to corroborate the facts by producing evidence of wrongdoing that could be put to Mbeki so that he could respond adequately.
Despite attempts by Moeletsi Mbeki to request then Editor of the M&G Nic Dawes to provide him with such evidence to which he could respond, no evidence was proffered, and the Mail & Guardian proceeded to publish the article.
In the absence of this evidence to support Mashele’s claim, we unreservedly apologise to Mbeki and regret the damage done to his reputation and business interests.
The M&G recommits itself to uphold the highest professional standards throughout our editorial processes and, in light of this incident, and in agreement with Mbeki, have agreed to make a contribution to the current budget deficit at the offices of the Press Ombudsman of South Africa to allow it to continue its work of ensuring that members of the public receive fair treatment from the press and that the highest standards of journalism ethics continue to prevail in South Africa. – Editor