The Presidency has refused to answer questions over Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe’s alleged admission that he paid journalists.
Presidency spokesperson Khuselaa Diko redirected media questions on the allegations to Mantashe’s department, IOL reports.
However, the minister has remained mum since his alleged admission was published in the Sunday World on Sunday.
‘R70,000 to two journalists’
Mantashe was quoted saying he had paid two Sunday World journalists a total of R70,000 to make a story about his alleged “blesser” relationship with a 26-year-old woman go away.
He reportedly said, “Two journalists from your publication called me for the same story. So, you are the third person to call me for the same story. Do you also want money? I paid them and now you are calling about the same story.
“I begged them not to write the story. I paid two journalists at your publication. I will not reveal their names. You can ask amongst your colleagues and ask Lerato to tell you their names.”
The tabloid published the story, with the woman, named Lerato Makgatho, claiming that she had also been in a similar relationship with Finance Minister Tito Mboweni.
EFF, DA, SANEF demand answers
In a statement, the South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) asked Mantashe to reveal the names of the journalists he allegedly paid.
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) spokesperson Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi wrote on Twitter on Sunday that Mantashe should “hand himself over to the police” for “admitting” to bribery.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) also said on Monday that it has referred Mantashe to Parliament’s Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests.
DA’s Shadow Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, Kevin Mileham, slammed the minister’s alleged conduct as “unacceptable.”
He said, “By admitting to paying off two journalists, the Minister did not act in accordance with the public trust placed in [him], nor did he maintain public confidence and trust in the integrity of Parliament.”
The African National Congress (ANC), of which Mantashe is National Chairman, has not yet commented on the allegations.