DA complains to Press Ombudsman over slanderous report

By James Masango MPL, DA Mpumalanga Leader:

The DA has today laid a complaint with the Press Ombudsman against Mpumalanga News newspaper following an article in that newspaper today about a service delivery protest in Pienaar Township, Mbombela municipality, which incorrectly attributed fault to the Democratic Alliance, through untested hearsay.

The DA takes exception to the inaccuracies in the article. The DA was never given an opportunity to respond to the allegation, nor to put forward our position before going to print, which would be to completely deny and refute the allegations.

The DA in Mpumalanga has always enjoyed a healthy working relationship with Lowveld Media and its various publications, including Mpumalanga News. As Mpumalanga’s official opposition, we interact regularly with journalists on matters pertaining to the province. It is therefore surprising and unethical that when writing this one-sided report, Constance Sithole failed to contact representatives or spokespeople of the DA for comment and clarification.

The fact is that no matter what allegations flow from community members, Pienaar is an ANC stronghold and Mbombela municipality is governed by the ANC.

By publishing this article, Mpumalanga News has violated numerous sections of the South African Press Code but most notably, section 2.5 which states that “A publication shall seek the views of the subject of critical reportage in advance of publication; provided that this need not be done where the publication has reasonable grounds for believing that by doing so it would be prevented from publishing the report or where evidence might be destroyed or sources intimidated. Reasonable time should be afforded the subject for a response. If the publication is unable to obtain such comment, this shall be stated in the report”.

We believe that this article does not meet the test of ethical journalism and that it has directly contravened the Press Code. As such; we will be laying a complaint with the Press Ombudsman asking for an investigation into this matter.

The DA will seek remedy in the form of the Mpumalanga News issuing the Democratic Alliance a prominent printed apology accompanied by a retraction of the story, a published correction or a properly balanced explanation of their article.

The DA takes pride in our role as the official opposition holding the governing party to full account, as we strive to improve the lives of all residents in Mpumalanga and South Africa.