Johannesburg - The African National Congress has rejected an article in a Sunday newspaper in which ANC secretary general Ace Magashule was reported as having said the ANC "does not need white votes".
The ANC dismisses the front page article in the City Press on Sunday as "sensational hot air". "We reject the report with the contempt it deserves," the party said in a statement on Sunday afternoon.
For City Press to say "Magashule said the ANC does not need white votes is mischievous and deliberately misleading and a total fabrication". The headline did not reflect what the body of the article reported Magashule as having said. A recording of the remarks Magashule made to various journalists was available "to be listened to".
"The secretary general of the ANC emphasised that the ANC is a democratic organisation and that its support was not based on colour. Comrade Magashule pointed out that there are progressive, democratic, whites who will vote for the ANC. However, he made the obvious factual observation that the majority of South African voters are those who were oppressed - blacks in general and Africans in particular. He then proceeded to note that to think that whites, generally, will vote for the ANC does not make sense to him in terms of the prevailing objective conditions in South Africa," the ANC statement said.
The following verbatim quote was relevant: “Our hope is not based on colour, and therefore people cannot say that whites this time are going to vote ANC as if blacks are actually not going to vote ANC.” Clearly, these quotes indicated Magashule had not said that the ANC did not need white votes. The ANC needed every vote - black and white - and was grateful for the support it received from every South African regardless of colour.
"Another mischievous bit of reporting was to report the positive remarks that the secretary general made about liberation icons of the ANC, namely [ANC former presidents] Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo as if it was a comparative denouncement of the current leaders of the ANC."
In reality, what Magashule did was to encourage the current leadership of the ANC, including himself because he used the collective "we", to emulate the selfless example of leaders such as Mandela and Tambo and to avoid the temptation of being motivated by the "love of positions and money", the ANC said.
"As the election campaign intensifies, South African voters are likely to be subjected to biased, selective, and distorted media reporting, and even downright fake news. We call on voters to be vigilant and not allow themselves to be excited and misled by such unethical journalism but to report fairly on what the leaders of the ANC say or do.
"We call on all media to report in a responsible and balanced manner and not to become involved in partisan reporting that eventually degenerates into politicking and biased political campaigning.
"The African National Congress has fought tirelessly for press freedom and we remain committed to the protection of freedom of speech and press freedom, but these treasured liberties are accompanied by the responsibility that rests on the shoulders of every media practitioner to report factually, truthfully, and in an evenhanded and fair manner," the ANC said.
African News Agency/ANA