‘Bring dirty tricks facts’
Sanef wants StratCom evidence provided
THE SA National Editors’ Forum ( Sanef) yesterday called on those with concrete evidence against journalists who worked for the apartheid state’s security establishment to bring it forward to substantiate their claims.
This comes after claims made by the late anti-apartheid veteran Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in Pascale Lamche’s award-winning documentary, Winnie.
Madikizela-Mandela claimed some journalists had been paid by the apartheid government to fabricate stories to tarnish her image and legacy.
In the documentary, Vic McPherson, former director of the apartheid government’s covert strategic communications (StratCom), revealed the details of Operation Romulus – a counter-revolutionary strategy that had Madikizela-Mandela as its primary target.
StratCom was the apartheid government’s plan to undermine and weaken the ANC and its allies in the build-up to the first democratic elections in 1994.
Sanef said it had noted the debate about the role of the media in peddling falsehoods and discrediting certain anti-apartheid activists.
“In the course of the debate about her legacy and experi- ence as a freedom fighter, some journalists have been accused of being spies or rogue operators that tried to tarnish her name by publishing stories planted by the apartheid government,” Sanef said.
“Given this context of lies and propaganda, we believe it is critical that concrete evidence is brought forward to substantiate claims that specific journalists supported the apartheid state’s security establishment.”
Sanef said in the absence of any such evidence, the circulation of unsubstantiated rumours was irresponsible, dangerous and extremely damaging to media freedom and the media environment as a whole.
“Further, we believe it puts journalists at serious risk of physical harm and having their credibility unnecessarily questioned.
“Those who have concrete evidence of any such wrongdoing by journalists working in South Africa at the height of apartheid should come forward,” Sanef said.
“We would like to call for cool heads, so that we can have a sober debate about ways to cherish Mama Winnie’s legacy in building a truly democratic nation.” – African News Agency (ANA)
uMkhonto we Sizwe forms the guard of honour for Madikizela-Mandela’s body in Orlando West, Soweto, yesterday.