The problem with the Mail & Guardian

Jackson Mthembu on the newspaper's spurious and despicable claims against ANC leadership


In the weeks leading to our National General Council (NGC) of our movement, there has been a pattern of reporting emanating from a particular weekly newspaper that has at its core the vilification of the ANC President, Cde Jacob Zuma and other leaders of the ANC.  This vilification has in the main, been sourced from faceless, nameless and ghost sources.

Editions after editions, 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 President Jacob Zuma as the president of the ANC and the president of South Africa.  The said newspaper raised these claims without any shred evidence from the leadership of all these organisations mentioned, again all these sourced from ghosts.

However, the ANC would like again to restate, as it has always done, that all its NEC elected members are elected for a five year period.  It will be up to the branches of the ANC come 2012 as to who gets re-elected to the ANC leadership. Such a statement is factual and indeed it should not be deliberately misconstrued to mean non-support for the president or any of the members of the NEC. The ANC NEC, including, President Zuma, enjoys the full confidence of the entire membership, its branches, its regions and its provinces.

In recent weeks again, this weekly has made claims to the effect that visits to provinces by President Jacob Zuma, prior to the NGC has 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 enquired from the ANC, it would have established that the visit to provinces by Cde President, Jacob Zuma, is an ANC NEC decision.

President Zuma as the head of the ANC has a duty to consolidate the Imvuselelo Campaign of the ANC in all provinces, in ensuring that the ANC come 2012 has a minimum of a million members.  Equally, President Zuma, together with other members of the NEC, including the Deputy President, Cde Kgalema Motlanthe, the Secretary General, Cde Gwede Mantashe, the Head of Mobilisation and Campaigns, Cde Fikile Mbalula, the Head of Political Education, Cde Tony Yengeni, have 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 but also these allegations are an insult to the ANC.

In fact, some of the visit to the provinces and branches are as a request from these ANC structures.

Again in recent times, this weekly has been on the offensive alleging that President Zuma has not been an honest broker in trying to end the public service strike.  They have made the claim that the instruction and guidance by Cde President Zuma to the negotiating Ministers to do anything they can in resolving the impasse and the deadlock, was fuelled by his desire to entrench his power base.

This weekly failed to even read ANC statements that have consistently called for government and the public sector unions to resolve the strike in the interest of the South African public.  It did not register to this weekly that the genuine concern of the president on the strike and his genuine instruction to his ministers was indeed a genuine re-statement of the ANC position on the matter. At any rate, President Zuma is the president of the ANC even in meetings of the National Working Committee (NWC) and the National Executive Committee (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 it has reached is crescendo on the attack on ANC leaders and the president, again relying on ghost sources, has made spurious, unsubstantiated and despicable claims on the leadership of the ANC by suggesting that there are anti Zuma groupings within the ANC leaderships.

The paper makes insulting, unsubstantiated and irresponsible claims to the effect that the Deputy President, Kgalema Motlanthe, is leading the grouping which is called "the New Frontier", which includes Cde Tokyo Sexwale, Cde Lindiwe Sisulu, and Cde Zwelinzima Vavi (see report).  The ANC would like to dismiss these claims with the contempt it deserves.  This is not only an insult to the ANC and its character of collective leadership but indeed is also an insult to the integrity of the person of the Deputy President and all the leaders of the ANC mentioned.

The paper also unashamedly makes unsubstantiated allegations and very irresponsible claims, again relying on ghost sources, that another grouping which they call "the "Coalition of the wounded" within the leadership of the ANC, is a grouping that is not satisfied with the position they hold in government, which includes Cde Siphiwe Nyanda, Cde Fikile Mbalula and Cde Julius Malema, despite a rejection of this notion by Cde Siphiwe Nyanda. 

The ANC would like to put it on record that the President of the ANC Youth League, Cde Julius Malema, made it clear that he will not be going to parliament or cabinet, he will remain at Luthuli House, long before the advent of the 2009 elections.  The deployment of other cadre, in the likes of Siphiwe Nyanda and Fikile Mbalula, they 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.

It is again this weekly, not satisfied with seeking to cause divisions within the ANC and its leadership, it was able to "read the president's mind" regarding his intention to reshuffle cabinet and remove three women ministers and a male minister.  This newspaper, 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 Cde Jacob Zuma.  Again, in this instance, they relied on ghost sources, who even told this newspaper that the president would bring such "reshuffle thought" to the NGC, what a trash!!!

It is quite evident that this particular weekly has made up all these ghost stories with an intention to politically poison ANC membership before the NGC.  It is also quit clear from the above reports and others not mentioned that the intention of this newspaper is indeed 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 the reviewal of progress made since the last elective conference in 2007.  Our branches, our regions and our provinces are seized with preparations for this biggest political school - the NGC, through Regional General Councils (RGC's) and Provincial General Councils  (PGC's) 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 the 20th to the 24th of September to do exactly what the ANC Constitution expects of them - review progress made since 2007.

The ANC can only come to one conclusion that these extreme levels of gutter journalism on the side of the said weekly newspaper are only fuelled by a political motive that is guaranteed to meet its waterloo at the NGC of the ANC.  Just as these attempts of vilifying 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?

Statement issued by ANC national spokesperson, Jackson Mthembu, September 5 2010

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