In parliament on Tuesday, EFF MP Nazier Paulsen rose on a point of order on behalf of the EFF to call for Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe to resign and hand himself over to authorities.
Mantashe reportedly admitted to bribing Sunday World journalists to have a sex scandal article about him spiked, but he has since denied any such admission.
Paulsen called for parliament to recognise that the alleged admission by the minister was against the executive’s code of ethics and undermined South Africa’s democratic values.
He repeated the EFF’s earlier assertion that “a man who is willing to bribe journalists is willing to be bribed himself and cannot be trusted with public office”.
He said they were calling on the minister to “do the right thing and tender his resignation, and present himself to the nearest police station”.
The South African National Editors’ Forum have challenged Mantashe to repeat his denials under oath, while the DA have also called for action to be taken against Mantashe. They laid a complaint against him with parliament’s ethics committee.
The ANC has said they welcome Mantashe’s statement denying the allegations. He is the ruling party’s national chairperson.
The ANC said it is heartened by the fact that Mantashe had assured the nation that he was never involved in unethical and criminal conduct involving journalists.
The party said in a statement that they had no culture or policy of buying journalists, as “bribing journalists is not only criminal and unethical, it is also inconsistent with the values of the ANC”.
“For the ANC, media freedom and the independence of the media are sacrosanct. The 54th National Conference of the ANC acknowledged the critical role of the media in shaping debates and setting an agenda in society. In this regard, the ANC believes that the integrity, credibility and independence of the media remain non-negotiable.
“The ANC will continue to defend the media’s right to report without fear or favour. During the drafting of the constitution, the ANC was clear and vociferous on protecting and defending media freedom. Members of the fourth estate must be allowed to do their job openly and freely. The contribution of the media in the creation and consolidation of a free, just and democratic South Africa is fully acknowledged and not in dispute.”
Sunday World reported that Mantashe had a romantic relationship with a student and paid two as-yet-unnamed journalists R70,000 to keep their silence on the subject.
(Compiled by Gopolang Moloko and Charles Cilliers)