Cape Town 23-07-08- Ebrahim Rasool  holds a press conference at the ANC  offices.
Picture Brenton Geach
Cape Town 23-07-08- Ebrahim Rasool holds a press conference at the ANC offices. Picture Brenton Geach

Editorial: Brown stuff

By Time of article published Feb 7, 2012

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PERHAPS the most telling aspect of the so-called “brown envelope” saga is that two journalists implicated in the scandal are no longer in their jobs but politicians allegedly involved have been handsomely rewarded by the ANC.

Cape Argus political editor Joseph Aranes and political writer Ashley Smith were allegedly paid in 2005 by the provincial government of then Premier Ebrahim Rasool for favourable coverage.

Smith has since confessed to receiving money through a front company and alleged that an MEC in Rasool’s government was the middle man in the deals.

Yesterday the newspaper succeeded with a Promotion of Access to Information Act application and was handed an interim report on the ANC’s 2006 investigation of the case.

The report repeats many of the allegations and evidence that the Cape Argus and other newspapers have already uncovered about the saga. It adds to the body of evidence that suggests there were indeed dark dealings going on between politicians and journalists at the time.

But it is clearly labelled as an interim report and ends with recommendations that more people need to be interviewed to gain clarity on a number of issues. These include Rasool and two members of his office.

The Cape Argus had applied for all documentation concerning the ANC’s investigation, but only received the interim report. This suggests that the probe either petered out at the interim stage or was swept under a carpet.

Today Rasool sits in Washington as the country’s ambassador to the United States and the “middle man” MEC occupies a senior position in the ANC in the Western Cape.

The grave nature of the allegations – and the fact that the ANC has itself pointed to this saga as justification for acting against the media – demands that the party itself comes clean on the issue.

It is not too late to interview Rasool and company now, and to act against them if they erred.

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