‘Bring dirty tricks facts’

Sanef wants StratCom ev­i­dence pro­vided

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

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.

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