Cape Town Press Club has ANC members

2012-05-08 14:44

Cape Town - Some members of the Cape Town Press Club are also members of the ANC, chairperson Donwald Pressly said on Tuesday.

"Yes, we do have [African National Congress members]. We have ministerial representatives who have written down that they are ANC-associated. They make no bones about their political affiliation," he said.

Pressly said the club was a platform for any member, regardless of position or party, to exchange opinions and ideas in the spirit of a free press and freedom of speech, conscience and association.

"We are not a press conference or press briefing forum."

ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu criticised the club on Monday for allowing politicians membership, saying it could not be regarded as a neutral ground for parties that had no right to be there.


He was responding to the spat that erupted when Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson protested about speaking at a press club breakfast on Friday, in the presence of DA MP Pieter van Dalen, who is a member of the club.

She apparently believed he wanted to use the opportunity to continue a disagreement they had during her budget vote speech on Thursday.

According to her adviser Rams Mabote, the minister had been under the impression she was addressing journalists, not politicians. She told the club that if one political party was there, other parties should also be present.

Van Dalen agreed to leave so the audience would not be denied the opportunity of hearing her speak.

Mthembu said the ANC was disturbed that a public representative for a political party was a member of the club.

"This anomaly is symptomatic of an institution that is founded on questionable grounds, given the fact that generally the membership of a press club is a preserve of professionals in the media space, who are expected to be objective and non-partisan when it comes to party politics."

In Business Day editor Peter Bruce's column on Monday, he defended the move by Joemat-Pettersson to refuse to speak.

He also accused press clubs of extending membership to collect more revenue.

"Press clubs should be for journalists and should be run by them. Money is a problem, but that isn’t ever best overcome by easing up on the core principle," he said.


Pressly said it was false to say the club's membership policy was based on revenue.

"Our fees are so low that making money from them is impossible. We run at a loss every month. If it weren't for the sponsorship of various businesses, we would have closed down years ago," he said.

The sponsorship money was largely used for bursary programmes.

The Cape Town Press Club has more than 500 members, of which 133 are business people and 125 journalists. About 18 people are registered as politicians, including city managers and political advisers.

The club planned to put its membership policy up for discussion at an annual general meeting this month or next month.

It said that excluding politicians from membership would not necessarily have changed what happened on Friday, since members were allowed guests and these guests could include politicians.

"No previous politician - from Jacob Zuma to Tokyo Sexwale to Malusi Gigaba and Helen Zille - has had an issue with this. All have spoken to the press club with other politicians present," Pressly said.

"... [F]or 36 years we have had no such incident nor demand from any speaker to exclude a member of the audience."

  • Vicker - 2012-05-08 15:19

    Comments please Jackson??? Sorry can't hear that - speak up...

  • richard.hipkin - 2012-05-08 15:21

    Old toothless AKA Jackson must rather just keep quiet, the minister acted in a disgraceful and childish way. No amount of backtracking or slandering the Cape town Press Club will change that perception..

  • Byron - 2012-05-08 15:36

    Please name all members of parliament who are also members of the press club

  • Peter - 2012-05-08 15:36

    OMG... the ANC loves to make fools of themselves...If i had a rand for everytime they've made it obvious they have double standards i would be a billionaire at least 30billion oh wait they already took it away from the pensioners to fund the falling apart e-toll system.. nvm

  • Sharon - 2012-05-08 15:46

    The ANC must carry on, with every statement they make themselves look more and more foolish. I like it - I like it a lot!!!

  • - 2012-05-08 16:26

    Do we know if any of the ANC members or ministerial reps were at the talk? If so they should have left as well

  • Louise - 2012-05-08 16:53

    Joemat Petterssen is usually indeed ignorant and a drama queen, but THIS TIME - on the issue of who are members of a press club - she is perfectly RIGHT! Such clubs should be independent of politicians and political influence - even more so now that journalists face a crises of credibility and press freedom is hanging in the balance. It is a shocking disgrace that the Cape Town press club allows politicians as members - it should be journalists ONLY and MEDIA practitioners. The DA in particular has had no qualms in the past about "infiltrating" news organisations to excercise undue influence: a community newspaper of Capital Media in Pretoria employed in DA city counselor as "journalist" in 2005 - whatever the news in the paper was, NO opposition party was ever appraoched to comment or respond. What a disgrace - the Cape Town press club should be ashamed of extending membership to politicians.

      Manu - 2012-05-08 17:31

      Well said Lousie. Indeed it's surprising that this press club has politicians amongst its ranks. But what really amazed me was to learn that of its 500+ membership only about a quarter are journalists. Press club indeed. Ha ha ha LOL

      Heiku - 2012-05-08 17:32

      What about the New Age? Is that not an ANC sponsored news paper? I don't think you can separate politics and the news because the news is all they have. It is their only way to sell themselves to us.

      Manu - 2012-05-08 17:43

      Heiku, the issue here is a press club and not a newspaper.

  • Manu - 2012-05-08 17:33

    A ministerial representative can be anything. Moreover they are not politicians but civil servants.

  • Diego - 2012-05-08 20:20

    Honestly the more these Press club guys comment the more I see how racist and DA retarded they are. The press club should have no “politicians” get it idiots “Politicians”. Your hate of the blacks and ANC has blinded you and made you retarded. The DA guy was a politician not just a DA member. If someone is a civilian representing a politician that doesn’t make him a politician. Please Press club stop commenting because the more you do it, it clearly shows you’re puppets of the DA

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