Daily Dispatch must apologise to ANC official

Johannesburg - The Press Ombudsman has directed the Daily Dispatch newspaper to apologise to ANC Eastern Cape secretary Lubabalo Mabuyane for misrepresenting him in a story.

The African National Congress in the province complained about four stories and an editorial printed by the newspaper.

The party complained that the first story "Mannya must go, says ANC" from April 16, omitted or summarised Mabuyane's comment, which was a misrepresentation of what he had said.

Deputy Press Ombudsman Johan Retief found this was a breach of the press code, which states: "the press shall be obliged to report news... fairly" and "news shall be presented in context and in a balanced manner, without any international or negligent departure from the facts whether by... misrepresentation."

The ANC also complained that a 20 June story "E Cape ANC policy jamlock" had unverified, inaccurate, incorrect and unsupported allegations.

The headline was false and the newspaper had not verified its information with the ANC.

Retief reprimanded the Daily Dispatch for stating as fact that party leaders cut a programme short and for "thumb-sucking" a reason for something that did not happen.

This was a breach of the press code.

The newspaper was ordered to publish an apology on its front page, as the two stories were both published on the front page.

There was no finding on complaints made about another two stories and an editorial.

The ANC in the Eastern Cape on Thursday welcomed the findings.

"The ANC in the province jubilantly welcomes the findings of the deputy Press Ombudsman, Johan Retief, against the Daily Dispatch, following a successful complaint we lodged about unfair, bias[ed] reporting by the newspaper," spokesperson Mlibo Qoboshiyane said in a statement.

"We strongly believe that the same correction must be published by all news outlets that published the story from the Dispatch."

Qoboshiyane said journalists had a ethical duty to ensure fair, accurate and balanced reporting at all times.

"As we have [a] few weeks to Mangaung, such erratic reporting is bound to borrow eagle wings if journalists believe feeble [stories] sold to them by selfish sources, without verifying it with ANC structures."

The ANC is holding its national elective conference in Mangaung next month.

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