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The President And Parliamentary Ethics Committee Must Hold Minister Mantashe To Account For Journalism Bribery Claims

The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) has followed up on the letter it wrote to the President on the 29th of October, asking him to call the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe to account. To date, Minister Mantashe has still not apologised for the comments that he bribed journalists at the Sunday World newspaper to quash a story about his personal life. We note that he subsequently retracted that statement.

This is an extremely serious matter for SANEF, and we will continue to seek answers. As a result, we have now also written to the Parliamentary Ethics Committee asking the Committee to hold a hearing into the matter.

Finally, SANEF has followed up with members of Judge Satchwell’s independent Media Ethics and Credibility Inquiry. The panellists have confirmed that they will be approaching Minister Mantashe to make a submission.

SANEF believes that as a minimum an apology is required – to the journalists at the Sunday World, the Sunday World itself, all journalists whose reputations have been tarnished as a result of his claims, and the South African public as a whole.

SANEF reiterates the fact that paid for or so-called “brown envelope” journalism is a very serious breach of the Press Council Code.

Section 2 of the Code deals with “Independence and Conflicts of Interest”. The Code states clearly that:

The media shall:
2.1 not allow commercial, political, personal or other non-professional considerations to influence reporting, and avoid conflicts of interest as well as practices that could lead readers to doubt the media’s independence and professionalism;
2.2 not accept any benefit which may influence coverage;
2.3 indicate clearly when an outside organization has contributed to the cost of newsgathering; and
2.4 keep editorial material clearly distinct from advertising and sponsored events.

A call to action
SANEF believes that brown envelope journalism is a scourge and cannot be tolerated in any form. If organisations or members of the public have any evidence – or evidence of any other ethical breaches in the media – we encourage them to make submissions to the Satchwell Media Ethics and Credibility Inquiry. Please send submissions to panel@mediainquiry.co.za. The new, extended deadline is 31 January 2020.

For more information please contact:
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