Limited Nkandla media access unjustified - SANEF

BY CHARL BOSCH - JULY 23, 2015

The South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) has expressed its disappointment after only being granted limited access during yesterday’s Parliamentary oversight visit to President Jacob Zuma’s private Nkandla home.

In a statement, the organisation said the media were only allowed to visit the 21 houses set aside for South African National Defence Force soldiers, the clinic and a helicopter landing pad, but were barred from accompanying MP’s on a separate more detailed tour.

“The aim of the journalists’ visit was not to inspect or intrude into the president’s private residence, but it was part of their duty to inform the public regarding a matter of enormous public interest given the public expenditure involved,” the statement read.

“Denying the media a complete access and preventing them from accompanying MPs are an unreasonable and unjustified infringement of the public’s right to know”.

The organisation has also lashed out at the Democratic Alliance (DA) after a delegation, headed by Chief Whip John Steenhuisen and Spokesperson Phumzile van Damme, reportedly made a series of comments while the media were being checked at a designated inspection area.

“It was unfortunate that some DA members decided to participate in the part of the tour organised and reserved for journalists. Their conduct is unacceptable and has potential to politicise a non-partisan and innocuous media tour,” SANEF said.

Proceedings were then briefly halted although it remains unclear as to what was actually said.

“True to the DA antics of attracting media attention by hook or crook, he [Steenhuisen] and his mob opted to pull silly stunts in front of the television cameras present, “ANC Spokesperson in the Office of Chief Whip Stone Sizani, Moloto Mothapo, said in statement yesterday.

In a later post on twitter, Steenhuisen said, “[The] only mob is the corrupt cronies in the ANC protecting Zuma at all costs, and the real disgrace is how so much public money [is] spent on one man”.