Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has called on Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe to resign over allegations he paid journalists to squash a blesser story about him.
In a statement on Tuesday, the party said it is “deeply concerned” that Mantashe allegedly paid the journalists a total of R70,000.
It said, “As the EFF, we believe these allegations may be true and call on Mantashe to step down as Minister and Member of Parliament for engaging in unethical and corrupt relations with the media.”
“He is not different to apartheid StratCom that compromised the independence and impartiality of the media by buying, bribing and infiltrating newsrooms and journalists,” the party added.
EFF said what Mantashe is alleged to have done is “dangerous for our democracy” because it compromises the media’s standing in society.
It called on Sunday World “to release the evidence of Mantashe’s confession” for the sake of its own credibility and that of the media in general.
“Media must report without any favour and without any bias. It must not be open to any bias. And those found in violation of such ethics must be isolated and exposed,” it said.
Mantashe denies allegations
In a statement early on Tuesday, Mantashe’s chief of staff Moferefere Lekorotsoana disputed Sunday World‘s report of comments attributed to him.
He wrote, “The statement attributed to him seems to have created an impression of him being involved in the act of bribery. Mr Mantashe is clear that none of the sort occurred.”
However, the tabloid has said it stands by its story and has challenged the minister to sue it to prove the allegations wrong.
Its editor, Makhudu Sefara, said he has a voice record of the conversation with Mantashe, whom he said is now “between a rock and a hard place.”
He said, “We reject the claim by the minister that he never said he paid two journalists. Not only did he say this to the reporter; I as the editor also called him to verify the claims that were in the article before me.
“Mr Mantashe, in very clear terms, told me that he paid the reporter’s colleagues. If Mr Mantashe is so convinced that we misquoted him, and implicated him in criminal conduct, as the editor, I challenge him to sue us. He must go to court.”