Media’s political affiliations vital in assessing Ramaphosa’s affair – Herbst

Veteran journalist Ed Herbst

JOHANNESBURG — If you look at the Zuptoid-fawning editors and owner of Independent Newspapers, and the ANC’s own version of NP master propagandist and fake news generator, Eschel Rhoodie, (Jimmy Manyi), the alleged affairs of Cyril Ramaphosa quickly lose purchase. Manyi’s Gupta-gifted ANN7 was the only TV station present when Ramaphosa, in what many say was a tactical blunder, unsuccessfully tried to legally interdict the Sunday Independent from publicising his alleged philandering. Seated next to convicted criminal and wealthy fellow businessman, so-called ‘Sushi King’ Kenny Kunene was the newspaper’s editor, Steven Motale. Here, veteran journalist Ed Herbst does his coverage of the media war for the soul of the ANC proud, questioning just why the e-mail leaks went solo to the Sunday Independent. He joins several other respected analysts today in suggesting captured state intelligence services were behind the leak but that they miscalculated the amount of damage this would do – true or not. Ramaphosa admits to an affair eight years ago, but to no others. As Herbst illustrates, he’s in ‘solid’ political company. Africans don’t resign over mere sexual peccadillos. It’s ugly and sexist and patriarchal, but indigenous African norms are not those of the Western World. As the ANC leadership war hots up, so media colours are being nailed to the mast. For the likes of Independent’s Dr Iqbal Survé and Manyi it could be a long walk on a short plank. A Ramaphosa victory would quickly put their shaky funding and practices to the sword. – Chris Bateman

By Ed Herbst*

However, in August 2013 there was a major coup when Independent News and Media, the newspaper chain which Tony O’Reilly had run into the ground en route to his own bankruptcy, was bought by Sekunjalo. Sekunjalo was a conglomerate company run by Iqbal Survé, a somewhat overwrought but pro—ANC Indian. At a stroke this put all the main daily morning and evening newspapers in all of South Africa’s major cities into the ANC camp. – RW Johnson How long with South Africa Survive – The Looming Crisis (Jonathan Ball, 2015)

ANN7 is the only channel broadcasting court proceedings between Sunday Independent and DP Ramaphosa live. – Nzinga Qunta 2/9/2017

Two of the founding pillars of the factional African National Congress in its contemporary iteration are the slate and the trough. Success with the former guarantees access to the latter. Both are predicated on a sense of entitlement and a justifiable sense of impunity because no snouter is promptly investigated and tried unless, like Cynthia Maropeng they steal not from the fiscus but from the ANC itself. Ask Shaun Abrahams – he’ll tell you.

All the indications are that the ANC will be returned to power after the 2019 elections, albeit with a reduced majority – part of a downward trajectory caused, in the main, by the changing rural/urban and age dynamics as well as growing public distaste for the systemic corruption which now characterises the ANC. The latest IPSOS poll indicates that ANC support could drop to 47%.

Of more immediate concern is who will become the next president of the ANC in a few months’ time.

Deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

This will be determined by the slate and Moeletsi Mbeki, in a recent article in Die Burger, said that Cyril Ramaphosa, a Venda, does not have the level of support enjoyed by KZN’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. The deputy editor of the newspaper, Johan Maarman said those who were banking on a Ramaphosa victory would be as disappointed after December as David Cameron was after the Brexit referendum vote and Hillary Clinton on 8 November last year.

Iqbal Survé, the owner – thanks to the ANC-controlled PIC – of the largest group of English newspapers in the country, has moved swiftly to align himself with and ingratiate himself with the NDZ camp. A fortnight ago he hosted the launch of a book detailing the period when Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was chairperson of the African Union Commission.

Funded by the CIA

Speaking at the function, Survé lavished praise on her but also took the opportunity, as he so often does, to lash out at the Naspers company and to accuse the editor of the Sunday Times of being a ‘paid security spy’ – just as he accused the Mail & Guardian three years ago of being funded by the CIA.

The claim about the Sunday Times editor being a ‘paid security spy’ is interesting when one asks the question: Who supplied the editor of the Survé-owned Sunday Independent, Steven Motale with the hacked Cyril Ramaphosa emails which formed the basis of the sensational claims vilifying him on the  front page of the newspaper at the weekend and dominated the headlines of all the Sunday newspapers?

The next question is why the hacked emails weren’t also supplied to the TMG and Caxton newspapers.

Motale’s front page lead in yesterday’s Sunday Independent met every element of the newspaper definition of a scoop. So why him and why the Sunday Independent when the impact would have been far broader had the hacked emails been leaked to all the major newspapers in the country?  Would it not boil down to a question of trust?

Another interesting factor is how Motale came to be the editor of the Sunday Independent in the first place.

Motale was dismissed as editor of the Citizen after tensions arose between him and management about political articles which were appearing in the newspaper. According to R2K these articles were about investigations into corruption allegations against former finance minister Trevor Manuel, as well as reports critical of finance minister Pravin Gordhan and ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu. Note that all of these people had expressed concerns about the Zuptoid regime corruption. A year prior to this, Motale had written an article apologising for media criticism of President Jacob Zuma. In short, he is an unabashed supporter of Zuma and presumably also supports the aspirations of Zuma’s ex-wife to be the next president of the country.

The Labour Court then set aside his dismissal but he remained on suspension and still faced disciplinary charges. It was clear that there was an irretrievable breakdown in trust between Motale and the management of the Caxton Group.

So how did Motale become editor of the Sunday Independent?

For that to happen, the incumbent had to be dismissed.

The incumbent was Wally Mbhele who had displayed a disturbing tendency to play with a straight bat.

On 14 May this year the Sunday Times revealed that Mbhele had been dismissed, not for writing but for publishing an article which accurately outlined how the ANC had gerrymandered the parliamentary appointment of that great Zuptoid benefactor, Brian Molefe. Iqbal Survé, according to the Sunday Times report, demanded that Mbhele publicly apologise to Molefe. When he refused to do that, his career as editor of Sunday Independent was over, thus paving the way for the appointment of Zuma acolyte, Steven Motale and the publishing of an article which will enhance the NDZ campaign and detrimentally affect the chances of a Ramaphosa appointment. Survé’s complaint to the SA Press Council about the Sunday Times’ Mbhele article was dismissed. This complaint, in itself, was ironic given that Survé had followed the example of the Guptas and withdrawn his newspapers from Press Council oversight and adjudication  at a time when the Council had received 78 complaints about the  ethically dubious articles routinely published in his newspapers.

More magic available at

The dismissal of Wally Mbhele had about as much in common with ethical news reporting as the dismissal of Alide Dasnois for producing with limited resources and under demanding deadline pressure, an obituary tribute to Nelson Mandela which Time magazine rated as among the top 15 in the world.

(Ramaphosa, it should be noted, has been outspoken in his condemnation of Gupta-linked corruption and, by implication, the Zuma role in this corruption.)

In short, are you surprised that the hacked Ramaphosa emails were leaked only to an editor who is a Zuma imbongi and to a newspaper owned by someone with strong ANC antecedents who has very publicly thrown his weight behind the NDZ presidential campaign?

Leak wars

In an article, ‘The leak wars’ I quoted Mizilikazi wa Africa about how he would arrive at work and find Tony Yengeni’s bank statements lying on his desk.

That article was about a South African media tragedy – about how the Sunday Times believed and acted upon leaked falsehoods about SARS and the so- called ‘Rogue Unit’ which ran a brothel and the so-called SAPS ‘Cato Manor taxi hit squad’. When these malevolent leaks were subsequently proved to be politically motivated and devoid of truth, the incumbent editor Phylicia Oppelt was moved sideways and the newspaper apologised.

The big question is who hacked into the Ramaphosa emails and why were they leaked only to Steven Motale?

Ramaphosa says such ‘targeted attacks’ are typical of the sordid Zupta-controlled security police and mirror the stratcom techniques of the apartheid era security forces.

We now need to confront the likelihood that state agencies and resources are being abused to promote factional political agendas. We also need to confront the reality that those behind these agendas will go to any length to protect themselves and their interests.

“We need to ask who these people are, and on whose behalf they act, Ramaphosa said.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe echoed Ramaphosa’s sentiments:

The Sunday Independent’s exposé smacked of the Ben Schoeman era and how smear campaigns played out during the apartheid era.

The anti-Ramaphosa leak to the Sunday Independent has echoes of the ANC’s catastrophically inept dirty tricks ‘war room’ endeavour before last year’s municipal election.

As the ANC avidly strives to emulate the nefarious activities of its predecessor, I am reminded of the way in which the apartheid-era security police leaked the details of Alan Boesak’s affair with Di Scott to the media.

The difference was that details of the Boesak/Scott trysts were leaked to all the major newspapers whereas now only the Sunday Independent received Ramaphosa’s hacked emails. Could this be because both Steven Motale and Iqbal Survé have publicly indicated their support for the Zuma faction of the ANC?

Another thought. When Allister Sparks was editor of the Rand Daily Mail and the newspaper was investigating the Info Scandal, he left the reporting to Chris Day and Mervyn Rees yet all the evidence in the MacBuffalogate saga is that Steven Motale drove the process himself …

At the time that the news broke both Zuma and Survé were in China.

Nothing changes as the ANC, once again, proves the veracity of R W Johnson’ assertion – it never held the moral high ground in the first place.

In this regard, Paul Trewhela raises cogent concerns.

It is a sad reflection on the state of the nation after two decades of ANC corruption, mismanagement and incompetence, that one of the touted selling points of Ramaphosa as a presidential candidate is that ‘He has got so much money he doesn’t have to steal.’

If Ramaphosa is a womaniser, he is hardly alone in senior ANC ranks – ask C.l.i.t, another presidential hopeful, he’ll tell you.

In fact, they’re constantly at it in the ANC – ask Malusi Gigaba and Razzmataz

Or ask Vytjie Mentor about the ‘flesh torpedo’.

Or Irvin Khoza about how he became a grandfather.

How SA’s leading cartoonist Zapiro views Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s current role. For more Zapiro magic, click here.

That’s not the point – having been reduced to junk status by the Zuptoids, we want someone who can help us avoid a grovelling approach to the IMF for a bailout.

Max du Preez wrote a prescient article two weeks before Steven Motale hit the headlines with his exclusive.

To be frank, NDZ is in the heart of the corrupt Zuma-Gupta nest and beholden to them, and is being promoted actively by the Gupta propaganda machinery.

The question that the Du Preez article raises is:

How do you define ‘Gupta propaganda machinery’?

What Steven Motale’s front page lead in one of Iqbal Survé’s newspapers reveals is that the ANC’s ‘good story to tell’, dirty tricks leak war is gaining momentum although political analysts feel that it’s impact on the allegedly tumescent Macbuffalo will not be significant.

Paul Trewhela raises cogent constitutional concerns in this regard.

Just how dirty that war already is becomes evident in Mark Shaw’s recently-published book and in the evidence being presented to the Moerane Commission, evidence which does not implicate the Democratic Alliance or other opposition parties.

  • Ed Herbst is a retired veteran journalist who writes in his own capacity.

Ramaphosa targeted as South Africa’s succession race turns ugly

By Mike Cohen

(Bloomberg) — The race to lead South Africa’s ruling party is turning increasingly nasty.

Allegations that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, a front-runner for the post, had extra-marital affairs with at least eight women and paid expenses for some of them were splashed across the front page of the Sunday Independent, which cited Ramaphosa’s private emails to back up the story. It didn’t say how it obtained them. Ramaphosa called the report part of a covert operation to halt his drive to root out corruption in the ruling African National Congress.

“We already had a somewhat toxic political environment in South Africa and it’s just got a bit more ugly,” Daniel Silke, director of Political Futures Consultancy in Cape Town, said by phone. “Extra-marital affairs have not had any dramatic effect on leaders’ political fortunes. For those who wish to damage the Ramaphosa campaign, I would say they would need to try a little bit harder.”

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa

The controversy comes less than four months before the ANC is due to elect a new leader, who’ll also be its presidential candidate in 2019 elections. Ramaphosa’s main rival is Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, 68, the former chairwoman of the African Union Commission and President Jacob Zuma’s ex-wife. The contest, which analysts say is too close to call, has exposed deep divisions within the 105-year-old ANC, which has dominated South African politics since white-minority rule ended in 1994.

Emails Hacked

Ramaphosa filed an unsuccessful lawsuit Saturday to stop the newspaper from publishing the revelations. While he admitted to an affair eight years ago, he denied having other extra-marital relations in an interview with the Johannesburg-based Sunday Times newspaper and said his emails had been hacked and altered, possibly by members of the intelligence services.

“This latest episode extends far beyond an attempt at political smear,” Ramaphosa said in a statement Saturday. “It represents an escalation of a dirty war against those who are working to restore the values, principles and integrity of the ANC and society. It is evident that there is a well-resourced, coordinated covert operation underway to prevent those responsible for wrongdoing from being held to account.”

Ramaphosa warned that state intelligence agencies and resources may be being used to fight factional political battles.

Read more about the contenders for the ANC leadership here.

A lawyer who co-founded the National Union of Mineworkers, Ramaphosa, 64, helped negotiate a peaceful end to apartheid and draft South Africa’s first democratic constitution. He lost out to Thabo Mbeki in the contest to succeed Nelson Mandela as president in 1999 and went into business, amassing a fortune before returning to full-time politics in 2012 as the ANC’s deputy leader.

Zuma Scandals

Zuma, 75, who’s been implicated in several graft scandals since he took office in 2009, has indicated that he wants his ex-wife to succeed him. Ramaphosa criticized his boss’s March 31 decision to fire the respected Pravin Gordhan as his finance minister — a move that prompted two ratings companies to downgrade the nation’s foreign-currency debt to junk — saying he and other ANC leaders weren’t consulted.

On the campaign trail, Ramaphosa has spoken out against graft and called for a prompt investigation into allegations that members of the wealthy Gupta family, who are in business with Zuma’s son, looted billions of rands from the state. Zuma and the Guptas deny wrongdoing.

Zuma is attending a summit in China and his spokesman Bongani Ngqulunga didn’t answer a call to his mobile phone. The president, a Zulu traditionalist who has four wives and at least 20 children, has publicly admitted to having two extra-marital affairs.

Ramaphosa’s admission that he had an affair eight years ago will probably help deflect further personal attacks, which are likely to be forthcoming, said Theo Venter, a political analyst at North-West University’s business school in Potchefstroom, west of Johannesburg.

“The intensity of political noise will increase now that we are closing in on the final lap of the ANC leadership race,” Venter said. “The allegation with regards to Cyril Ramaphosa’s extra-marital affairs will not have a lasting effect.”

  • Ed Herbst is a retired veteran journalist who writes in his own capacity.
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