Minister puts conditions to press club

By Drum Digital
04 May 2012

Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson has refused to address the Cape Town Press Club in the presence of a DA shadow minister, the club said on Friday.

"The minister's office accused the Cape Town Press Club of being dishonest about the people it had invited to this breakfast meeting," chairman Donwald Pressly said in a statement.

Joemat-Pettersson was invited to address the meeting after her budget vote debate in Parliament, but would not speak unless Democratic Alliance shadow minister Pieter van Dalen left. Van Dalen agreed to do so, and the minister delivered her speech.

Pressly said: "Van Dalen is a fully paid-up member of the Cape Town Press Club, and as such is entitled to attend any Cape Town Press Club event he chooses to attend."

Joemat-Pettersson's spokesman Rams Mabote said he could not understand why the club took exception to the minister's reaction.

"The minister goes to Parliament... she addresses politicians every day, so why is she expected to at the Press Club? Why don't they invite other political parties, then?"

He said Joemat-Pettersson's office did not know her shadow minister would be at the event, contending this was not the appropriate setting for political debate.

Pressly said Joemat-Pettersson's office had "no prerogative" to dictate to the club which of its members were allowed to attend its own meetings.

"One is surprised that an elected politician and servant of the entire electorate is unable to take the heat of probing questions from whatever quarter. Perhaps it is a case of the answers being potentially embarrassing, rather than the questions," he said.

National Press Club chairman Yusuf Abramjee said he would not have allowed Joemat-Pettersson to address the meeting if she was not prepared to speak in front of Van Dalen.

"It smacks of arrogance and this nonsense must stop."

He said it was "disrespectful" of her to use the public platform provided by the Cape Town Press Club for "petty politicking".

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