Pro-Mabuza stories planted

2012-03-03 15:53

An Mpumalanga journalist was allegedly promised a government job and a luxury car to write negative stories about Premier David Mabuza’s challenger for the post of provincial ANC chairperson.

These startling revelations were recorded during a two-hour meeting that took place last Friday. During the meeting, Mpumalanga News reporter Mbekezeli Mbuli profusely apologised to health MEC Clifford Mkasi for discrediting him.

Mbuli said he suspected that the interview was being recorded and what he had said on tape was the truth.
Also present at the recorded interview were the paper’s editor, Bongani Hlatshwayo, and two business men who are friends of Mkasi who are heard interrogating the reporter.

Mbuli admitted to putting his byline on a story sent to him by Mabuza’s ally, former ANC Youth League provincial secretary Musa Mkhatshwa. The story quoted a fictitious Professor Robert MacMillan saying Mkasi was unsuitable for provincial chairpersonship and incapable of leading the provincial ANC.

Another story quoted SA Communist Party (SACP) representatives saying they did not back Mkasi for the top job. The SACP then complained to Hlatshwayo because Mbuli did not contact them and, in fact, they wanted Mabuza to resign.

Mkhatshwa and 11 ANC youth league executive committee members resigned in December when president Julius Malema began purging supporters of a second term for Mabuza in the province, and President Jacob Zuma for the party’s presidency.

Mkhatshwa denied writing stories for Mbuli. “I don’t write stories about comrades. I only commented that the decision to support Mkasi was unconstitutional as no provincial general council had sat to rescind a congress resolution that supported Mabuza’s second term,” he said. Mbuli admitted on tape that Mkhatshwa constantly fed him information. Mbuli denied meeting Mabuza in person but said youth league members promised him a job in the Mbombela municipality as well as a BMW.

“Honestly, I never spoke to Number One (Mabuza). I took their side, Doctor (Mkasi). I was promised the job in December. One of them said he would take me to the farm (Mabuza’s residence near Barberton) because there was a BMW waiting for me,” he said.

“I admit I got carried away. I like beer, so Musa would come to my place with liquor and we would drink and he would give me information about you, Doctor.”

Mbuli said he did not realise he was being used and admitted he did not know how to investigate stories.
“I never took a cent. I got carried away when Mkhatshwa came with the article already crafted. I saw it as a good story,” Mbuli said.

Provincial ANC spokesperson Paul Mbenyane said: “We note these developments with regret.

“We are encouraged by the paper’s investigation into the matter.”

Mabuza’s spokesperson Lebona Mosia said: “I only comment on government issues that involve the Premier, not politics in the ANC.”

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