The Sunday Times journalist who broke the story on an alleged plot, spearheaded by Jacob Zuma, to unseat President Cyril Ramaphosa, has received some bizarre threats.
Qaanitah Hunter, along with fellow journalist, Jeff Wicks, dropped a political bombshell on Sunday, by detailing clandestine meetings, involving high ranking African National Congress (ANC) officials and former president Zuma, which form of a plot to overthrow President Ramaphosa.
ANC in denial
It’s alleged that pro-Zuma affiliates met in Durban last week to discuss their nefarious plans. The report implicates the following associates, including Zuma himself; ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule, former premier of the North West province, Supra Mahumapelo, Women’s League (ANCWL) secretary-general, Meokgo Matuba, ANC Youth League (ANCYL) KwaZulu-Natal secretary, Thanduxolo Sabelo, and former South African Airways (SAA) board chairperson, Dudu Myeni.
Various parties, either directly or indirectly, involved in the supposed secret meetings have explicitly denied the allegations. Sabelo has laid a complaint with the press ombudsman, citing libellous and irresponsible reporting by Hunter and Wicks.
Nobody implicated has managed to disprove the photographic evidence showing Magashule, Mahumapelo and Matuba in talks with Zuma.
The ANC issued an official statement which labelled the report as slanderous gossip aimed at disturbing party unity. The ANC’s head of presidency, Zizi Kodwa, said:
“What was the meeting about? How did it come about? Was it a coincidence? The ANC has no responsibility to explain a meeting which was not an ANC meeting.”
The only ANC cadres taking the allegations to heart are Jackson Mthembu, the party’s Chief Whip, and Derek Hanekom, the minister of tourism. Both members are calling for formal investigations.
ANC Women’s League issues fiery response
Yet the most damning response came from the ANCWL, headed by Matuba, which personally attacked both journalists responsible for the report, stating:
“The African National Congress Women’s League (ANCWL) is not surprised by the false story in Sunday Times by Qaanitah Hunter and Jeff Wicks, claiming that there are plans to outs the African National Congress (ANC) President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The ANC lists conferences and 2019 elections are approaching and journalists like Qaanitah and Jeff who have abandoned their code of ethics in journalism will intensify their malicious false stories aimed at dividing and discrediting the ANC.
One of the core principles of journalism is truth. Qaanitah and Jeff must also embrace and adhere to ethics of journalism that are based on professional conduct, morality and the truth.
We will always be in the forefront of ensuring that there is unity of purpose in the movement and no malicious divisive reports by Qaanitah and Jeff will deter us.”
ANC Women’s League: The gun picture
Hunter revealed that she had been sent a bizarre image of what appears to be a toy gun embossed with the text, ‘stay classy’, which appears to have been sent before the report went to print. Hunter made the image, and her response, visible to the public via Twitter, which stated:
“I hear all the denials. But what I really don’t understand is why the SG of the ANCWL sent me a picture of a gun after I called her with questions and she denied even being in Durban on Thursday and even seeing Zuma.”
As reported by The Citizen, the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has condemned the threatening message, stating:
“The ANC, and its various structures, obviously, have the right to criticize the media, point out inaccuracies and lay formal complaints with bodies such as the press council. However, we believe it is problematic when particular journalists are attacked on a personal level.
We believe these threats have a chilling effect on freedom of expression and access to information.”
When questioned about the image sent to Hunter, Matuba replied by saying she wasn’t sure who had sent the message, because she shares her phone with many different people.
UPDATE: Meokgo Matuba issues an apology
According to EWN, Matuba has since issued an apology for the image she sent to Hunter. Late on Tuesday afternoon, while speaking to the news channel, Matuba still denied that she had personally sent the message, saying:
“Actually no, but my sincere apologies”
Matuba still claims that somebody else sent the message using her phone.