No media allowed at Nkandla “deeply shocking” - SANEF

BY CHARL BOSCH - JULY 22, 2015

The South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) has blasted Parliament’s ad-hoc committee on Nkandla for not allowing journalists to accompany Parliamentary members on an oversight visit to President Jacob Zuma’s private home today.

In a letter addressed to committee chairperson Cedric Frolick, SANEF’s Media Freedom Committee describes the decision as “deeply shocking” due to the amount of interest created around Nkandla, adding that the controversy deserves to be explained to the public.

Earlier this month, a similar application by Media24 was also withdrawn after Frolick alleged he had received no legal clearance to grant the media access.

“Sanef has been told that the committee claims that it does not have the ``legal authority to allow the media to enter the President’s private residence’’. However, it is also apparent that the committee and its chairman have not taken any action to facilitate access of the media to the residence during the committee’s visit,” the statement read.

“Exclusion of the media from the visit to the residence could result in vital information concerning the issues being withheld from the public. Sanef believes it is not reasonable and justifiable for the media to be excluded”.

Speaking in a statement, Democratic Alliance (DA) Federal Chairperson James Selfe said the party will make full use of its visit after Police Minister, Nathi Nhleko, yesterday dismissed the findings of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, that Zuma should pay back a portion of the money spent as per her Secure in Comfort Report.

“In his briefing to the Committee, the Minister failed completely to deal with the essence of the matter. His report is basic, confined only to the four “cherry picked” issues gleaned from the Public Protectors report, namely: the swimming pool, the cattle kraal, the visitors centre and the amphitheatre,” Selfe said.

“The Minister consistently denied that he was “singing for his supper”, while it was obvious that that is precisely what he is doing”.

In tabling his findings in May, Nhleko stated that Zuma could not be expected to pay back the money as the additions of a private cinema, cattle kraal, chicken coup and swimming pool, dubbed fire pool, were all essential security items.