Premier must come clean on dirty tricks journalism

Anthony Benadie MPL

DA Leader in Mpumalanga

The DA calls on Mr Mbekezeli Mbuli, the journalist of the Mpumalanga News to come clean and reveal the full extent of the allegations surrounding his writing of articles aimed at damaging the credibility of challengers to the provincial ANC chairperson. Mbuli must further reveal who approached him in the first place, when it happened, and what rewards were promised in return.

During the past few weeks it was reported that Mbuli wrote a defamatory article about health MEC and alleged contender for the provincial chairmanship of the ANC, Dr Clifford Mkasi, and his unsuitability for the post as party chairperson. Mbuli allegedly cited the analysis of Professor Robert MacMillan, who criticised Mkasi, while praising the leadership abilities of current party chairperson and premier, Mr David Mabuza. It has subsequently been reported that Mbuli was fed stories by supporters of Mabuza and placed under Mbuli’s by-line. As reward, he would receive a job at the Mbombela local municipality, as well as a luxury German car.

Based on the allegations around the “Mbuligate” saga, the DA is convinced that premier Mabuza is either directly or indirectly involved, especially since he has made his wishes for re-election clear, and stands to benefit most when his opponents are discredited. If premier Mabuza is innocent, he must, in the interests of the people of Mpumalanga to appoint a commission of enquiry, and clear the names of both himself and of his government. The DA believes that the only way the truth will be heard, is when all parties concerned stand before the commission and state publicly, and under oath, their version of events.

It is rather ironic that the ANC accuses the media of unethical journalism in its defence of the controversial Protection of State Information Bill, while at the same time using the media in an unethical way to promote its own interests. This begs the question: Does the ANC want a regulated media or an “unethical” media? Members of the media in general and newspaper journalists in particular, are under threat of draconian legislation should the Bill be passed in its current form. It is therefore in the interests of the entire media industry that the full truth behind “Mbuligate” be revealed, before giving proponents of the Bill added reason for its implementation.

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