Barely a week after the Mail & Guardian published a defamatory story about the National Chairperson of the African National Congress, the Appeal Panel of the Press Council has vindicated the ANC's assertion that the Mail & Guardian is on a rampage to discredit the African National Congress and its leadership.
The ruling by the Appeals Panel arises from an application by the paper for leave to appeal a decision of the Press Ombudsman that the Mail & Guardian apologise to ANC National Executive Committee member, Comrade Tony Yengeni, for publishing allegations as fact and causing him undue and unnecessary harm. In true Mail & Guardian tradition, the paper published a defamatory headline which insinuated that there was record of a bribe signed by Comrade Tony Yengeni, when no such agreement existed nor was it ever seen by the paper. Leave to appeal the decision was refused by Judge Ngoepe, Chairperson of the Appeals Panel, citing that the allegations stated as facts are seriously harmful.
The African National Congress respects the constitutionally enshrined right of the freedom of the press. This right comes inextricably linked to an obligation to truthful, accurate and fair reporting, an obligation the Mail & Guardian continues to blatantly disregard in its quest to demonise and delegitimise the African National Congress and its leaders in the eyes of the public. Desperately, the paper clutches at non-existent straws in an effort to breathe life into cadavers of rumours and insinuations with the sole purpose of publishing anything that will reduce the support enjoyed by the African National Congress amongst the masses of our people.
The African National Congress will never allow a situation where our freedoms are abused by anyone in their haste to fulfil political agendas at the behest of nameless and faceless sources. To this end, we trust that the legal remedies available to deal with libel and defamation will be exercised by Comrade Tony Yengeni in this matter, sending a clear message to the press that ANC leaders, like all citizens, too have a constitutionally enshrined right to dignity and fair and truthful reporting.
African National Congress
Keith Khoza: 0828239672
Khusela Sangoni-Khawe: 0795105408