The ANC in Limpopo rejected a Sowetan newspaper report about two weeks back, alleging that its provincial leader and chairperson Cassel Mathale had dared the ruling African National Congress President Jacob Zuma to arrest him. The rejection of the allegation follows the newspaper report‘s headline line “Mathale Dares Zuma: Arrest Me”, followed by sub-heading “Defiant Limpopo Premier Lashed Out As Mangaung Fever Hots Up”.
The newspaper claimed that Mathale had “dared President Jacob Zuma’s government to arrest him if there has been any wrongdoing on his part, instead of ‘punishing innocent service providers'”. This, claimed the newspaper, was Mathale’s first outburst since the national government took over administration of several departments in the province after reports of financial maladministration.
Sowetan claimed the “move” (of placing these departments under administration) was seen as Zuma “ploy… to punish those, like Mathale, who are opposed to his serving a second term”.
Mathale reportedly said: “It is quite upsetting to punish the people ofLimpopofor the ‘wrongs’ that they did not commit. I for one have received my salary on December 15”. This after several service providers in the province (probably those that they served and are now under administration) complained that they had not been paid since the national administration took over.
Mathale reportedly said this while delivery a message of support in Polokwane on Thursday, saying: “They (service providers) had to face a black Christmas with their families because they were not paid for their work. Their children had to spend Christmas without new clothes and now they are faced with an uphill battle to raise funds to send their children to school. I am going to take it up with the powers that might be at a national level”.
The ANC in Limpopo said the headline was “slanderous and completely untruthful” and that “nowhere in the article in question does the ANC leader in the Limpopo government even remotely mention the name of the ANC President nor does he insinuate or make any inference to our National leader in the ANC and government”.
And I agree with the ruling party because Mathale’s alleged statement that “If there is anyone with tangible evidence to these accusations why can’t they arrest me?” is attributed to the newspaper’s claim that “Mathale came under scrutiny late last year after Cosatu and the SACP accused him and his provincial administration of being corrupt” and that “the two (SACP and Cosatu) accused Mathale and his cronies of awarding lucrative tenders worth about R1.5-billion to companies with which they have links”. And nowhere in Mathale’s statements is the ruling party or its leaders, especially Zuma, mentioned at all.
In other words, yes, Sowetan’s headline “Mathale Dares Zuma: Arrest Me” was misleading because it would seem Mathale’s comments, if true as reported by the newspaper, were indeed directed at both Cosatu and SACP for accusing “him and his provincial administration of being corrupt” by awarding himself and his “cronies lucrative tenders worth about R1.5-billion to companies with which they have links”.
Because of this misleading headline, any reasonable person may arrive at the conclusion which the ANC did that Sowetan “has an ‘unclarified’ agenda against the ANC Leadership inLimpopo”.
So, my dearest Sowetan et al, from now on (and this goes to the rest of the media, especially at the time when the ruling party is celebrating its 100-years) please take the ANC Limpopo’s advice and “begin to rise above petty political games” and “adhere to [your] industry’s ethics and codes of practice and stop using opportunistic stunts and grand-standing to stimulate their newspaper sales”. Failure to take this advice would result in the ANC and people like myself seeing your reporting as nothing else but just “divisive intentions”.