Cape Argus fabricated a front page lead – Office of WCape Premier

Allegation that Helen Zille personally intervened in a procurement process to award tender to her son is completely false

Another failed smear as Cape Argus fabricates a front page lead

20 June 2017

Having destroyed the credibility of their Cape Times newspaper, Independent Group has moved on to duping their readers using the Cape Argus.

The Argus today leads with the complete fabrication that a firm had unduly secured a tender to provide disadvantaged learners with educational material. There was, in fact, no tender at all.  When this falsehood falls away, there is no story left.

The facts are as follows:

- In 2014 a maths teacher in Khayelitsha [Helen Zille's son Paul Maree - PW] volunteered to give free workshops and resources to disadvantaged students in the run-up to the matric exams that year;

- The teacher enabled the learners to use 150 tablet devices which were borrowed from the provincial Education Department for the workshops. A written agreement was signed, educational material was uploaded onto the devices for free, and the devices were returned in pristine condition to the Department directly after the workshops; and

- The teacher volunteered their time at no cost at all, and the only people who benefitted were the learners who got free DVDs and hours of free video lessons in Maths and Science.

The Argus claim that the Premier personally intervened in a procurement process to award a tender to Paper Video, is completely false. There was no tender and the person in question was a maths teacher at the time, who approached the Education Department in that capacity only. The initiative represented a significant donation of time and resources by a teacher.

The printing of outright fabrications as front page leads has become commonplace for the Independent Group, which has withdrawn all of their titles from the accountability of the Press Ombudsman process.

Both the Argus and Cape Times have joined the ranks of The New Age, as cheap propaganda rags with little regard for their own credibility. The total disregard shown for the intelligence of their readers is the number one reason why the circulation of Independent’s Cape titles continues to decline.

Today’s latest fabrication, follows various attempted fabrications by the Independent Group aimed at smearing Premier Zille.

Previously the Cape Times had run an 8 month long smear campaign against Premier Zille, with the newspaper falsely claiming she had hired a “spy”, before being stopped in its tracks by the Press Appeals Council. The Independent Group then withdrew its membership of the Press Council.

The Independent Group has also in the past falsely claimed in an editorial that Premier Zille had little involvement in exposing the killing of Steve Biko, yet another fabrication without any substance. The Cape Times also recently led with a distorted quote from the Premier, for which they were forced to apologise on their front page the following day.

We will continue to expose the distorted and unethical reporting of Independent Media, and its regular dishonesty with its readers.

Issued by Michael Mpofu, Spokesperson for Premier Helen Zille, 20 June 2017