ANC Limpopo regrets 'media blunder'
Carien du Plessis and Mmanaledi Mataboge, City Press
Johannesburg - The Limpopo ANC on Thursday blamed an "unintended communication error" on some journalists being bumped off the accreditation list for its provincial conference.
It regretted the mishap, provincial spokesperson David Masondo said in a statement.
"An internal administrative mishap led to a few journalists being accidentally informed that their applications for media accreditation had been rescinded.
"The situation has since been rectified to everyone's satisfaction."
However, Masondo said the accreditation process for the conference was not being re-opened.
The journalists involved include City Press’s Piet Rampedi and Sowetan’s Frank Maponya - who have both written critically about the ANC and provincial government leadership.
Rampedi said he was told earlier in the week that his registration was in order, but on Thursday he suddenly received an e-mail saying it had been rescinded.
Mandisa Mashego from the party’s communications and media department, on Thursday said Rampedi was “never accepted initially. It was a mistake that I included him in the accepted journalists list.”
30 journalists involved
Mashego said the conference was “oversubscribed by 30 journalists”, but it was “the ANC’s prerogative to accept or decline in terms of capacity”.
She wasn’t allowed to disclose who the 30 journalists were, or what criteria were used to exclude them.
She said journalists from City Press already had accreditation, so the withdrawal of Rampedi’s accreditation was not to the newspaper’s detriment.
Mashego said the ANC had already apologised to City Press and Sowetan for withdrawing the accreditation of their journalists.
When City Press requested Mashego to swap Rampedi with another accredited journalist because he was already in Polokwane - where he is based - she refused to grant that.
“The editorial decisions cannot have an impact on our decisions. Our process does not involve consulting with newsrooms.”
Said City Press editor-in-chief Ferial Haffajee: “In our collective experience of almost two decades now, the ANC is a generally transparent organisation that runs accreditation in fair and open ways - huge numbers are accommodated to satisfy the requirements of transparency.
"We hope these decisions will be overturned to ensure that the technical tool of accreditation is never ever used as an opportunity to blacklist rigorous and independent journalists.”
Maponya’s accreditation was withdrawn after he wrote a story on a businessman who claimed to have been offered a R300 000 tender - which he hasn’t tendered for - if he voted for Premier Cassel Mathale.
Most of the other journalists who still had to register received e-mails on Thursday confirming their registration.
This weekend’s fiercely contested congress will see Deputy Arts and Culture Minister Joe Phaahla challenging Mathale for the position of provincial chair.
Mathale is backed by suspended ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, while Phaahla has received backing from Malema’s detractors, including Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba.
ANC Limpopo provincial secretary Joe Maswanganyi, who is set to contest the election on Phaahla’s list, said it was “wrong” to withdraw Rampedi’s accreditation.
“We can’t choose. If we have many people accredited from one organisation we should tell that media house on time so that they can choose who should be accredited.”
Venue too small
Maswanganyi confirmed it was difficult to accredit the 72 journalists initially accredited because the conference venue wasn’t big enough. But he said the party cannot take a decision on who to exclude.
“We need to communicate with media houses.”
In June the ANC Youth League decided to limit the number of journalists allowed at its conference in Midrand, but it warned journalists beforehand that it would only allow a limited number of journalists from each media house.