Zondo commission: SABC journalist told not to report on political events that led to Nenegate

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Thandeka Gqubule-Mbeki.
Thandeka Gqubule-Mbeki.
Sharlene Rood (screen grab)

The SABC's economic editor, who is also part of the so-called SABC 8, Thandeka Gqubule-Mbeki has told the state capture inquiry she was requested not to report on the political events that resulted in the financial market impact following the dismissal of Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister in 2015.  

Gqubule-Mbeki told commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo: "The issue around Nenegate affected me and my department. It is our responsibility to tell the South African public about the value of the money in their pockets…"

She said the public broadcaster's former head of TV news, Nothando Maseko, had requested that she should not mention former president Jacob Zuma's conduct, quoting her as saying "the rand has been trading badly for a while and it is not the president's behaviour that has done this".

Gqubule-Mbeki added Maseko's request was "illogical and un-journalistic".

Zuma removed Nene from his Cabinet on December 9, 2015, and the financial market impact was immediate.

His axing at the time - to make way for then little-known MP Des van Rooyen - caused the rand to decline in value against the dollar and it became known as "Nenegate".

At the time, Van Rooyen was replaced three days later by now Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan.

"What I found strange about the request not to look at the political economy and political events that may have had effects on the rand, the bond markets … was that Brazil was going through something similar that month…

"To be asked not to tell the public about what is driving the value of the rand in their pocket, to me is another treasonous request. I decided not to tell members of my team and covered the rand as everybody else was doing," Gqubule-Mbeki said.

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