From Helen Zille*
Dear Mr President
Alleged “Leaking” of Information
I write this letter to your office, requesting you to answer this question: What “confidential contents” of the President’s consultation with Premiers on 19th January in Pretoria did I allegedly leak?
The written presentation was marked “secret”, but I was careful not to include the statistics from that presentation in my newsletter.
At that meeting, all Premiers were specifically requested to discuss the implications of the budget crisis with their provincial colleagues.
I did this in the Western Cape, and my newsletter reported on our provincial deliberations. This is common practice in the Western Cape, as we believe in the greatest level of transparency possible on matters of public interest, as impending budget cuts indeed are.
Information that is “common knowledge” in a sphere of government, is by definition already “public”. On the Presidency’s instructions, I discussed the implications of the budget crisis with my provincial colleagues.
They further analysed these implications for the entire provincial government. As we are talking about public money, and the choices we have to make about how to spend it, it seems in the public interest to set out what these choices are.
I also note that you accuse me of having leaked confidential information in the past. I categorically deny this. In 2014, after a briefing with the IEC, I merely shared, on social media, that an announcement on the election date would be made by the President. Although I knew what this date would be, I did NOT announce it, because that would indeed have been a breach of confidentiality. But merely saying an announcement would be made, is NOT a breach of confidentiality, indeed, it is self-evident. It could only be a means of heightening interest and anticipation in the President’s announcement, without pre-empting it. It is bizarre that this could be regarded as a breach of confidentiality.
It is very unfortunate that the Presidency has seen fit to publicly call my credibility into question. I must respectfully reject the allegation that I have released confidential information, until you let me know specifically what confidential information I am alleged to have leaked.
- Helen Zille, Western Cape Premier