The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) met today, 31 October, with Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Mr. Gwede Mantashe, to discuss his comments that he bribed journalists at the Sunday World newspaper.
Members of the SANEF Management Committee and the editor of the Sunday World, Makhudu Sefara, a SANEF member, were in attendance. Mantashe was accompanied by his special advisors, chief of staff & media liaison officer.
The meeting was robust and difficult as the events of the past 5 days were discussed.
As SANEF we reiterated the damage the allegations have done to not only the Sunday World but to the whole industry. “Paid for” or so-called “brown envelope” is gutter journalism, and an assault to media ethics.
The new editor-in-chief of the Sunday World, Makhudu Sefara explained that the allegations have created a reputational crisis for the weekly paper.
The Minister’s initial statement that he bribed journalists and then his withdrawal of this claim has threatened the invaluable trust relationship necessary between the publication and readers – but also amongst the Sunday World and its journalists. Sefara has been forced to subject all his staff to lie-detector tests.
After the robust discussion, Minister Mantashe confirmed the following:
– That he had stated that he had bribed journalists – confirming that the statements attributed to him in the Sunday World were correct.
– He, however, denied bribing journalists. He insists there was never a meeting with the paper’s journalists and an exchange of money.
– He, however, said that he will subject himself to the full processes of the
Kathy Satchwell Inquiry into Media Ethics and Credibility to explain the circumstances that led to him making the statement.
SANEF chairperson, Mahlatse Mahlase requested that the Minister apologise to the nation, journalists at Sunday World, and the industry for the damage, pain and confusion he has caused by making the serious allegations that he had bribed journalists.
“Our reporters feel he must apologise not just to the paper, but for causing pain and trauma in their lives, Sefara said.
SANEF urges the Minister that when he approaches the Satchwell commission he makes a statement under oath.
SANEF will await the outcomes of the Satchwell ethics and credibility inquiry on the matter.
We continue to encourage members of the public to make submissions to the inquiry to help in the process of holding journalists accountable. Please send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, we have called on the President to look into this issue as we believe strongly that sitting cabinet members have a role to play in eradicating corruption and promoting media freedom.
For more information please contact:
Mahlatse Mahlase – SANEF chairperson – 082 399 2852
Katy Katopodis – SANEF deputy Chairperson – 082 805 7022
Moipone Malefane – SANEF Secretary General 082 772 5861
Hopewell Radebe – SANEF Acting Gauteng Regional Convenor 083 582 1734
Mary Papayya – SANEF Media Freedom, Acting Chair – 082 379 4957
Kate Skinner – SANEF Executive Director – 082 926 6404
Trust in the Media is Important to our Democracy
The Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Mr Gwede Mantashe today, 31 October 2019, met with the South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) – at which meeting also the editor of the Sunday World was present.
The Minister acknowledges that, during the telephonic conversation with the Sunday World, he made claims about the bribery of journalists. He regrets these statements as there is no basis for them. He neither met with nor paid any journalists. He retracts what he said.
The Minister further commits to fully participate in SANEF’s inquiry into media ethics and credibility led by retired Judge Satchwell. This is to ensure transparency, fair and appropriate scrutiny, and to assist in engendering trust in newsrooms; and between the media and society at large.
He is committed to an environment in which journalists can work freely and without suspicion. The integrity of the media is integral to a healthy, progressive and open democratic society.
Issued on behalf of Minister Mantashe