National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete: File photo: ANA

Cape Town - National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete has denied social media allegations that she has undisclosed business interests, and is seeking legal advice on the matter for an appropriate course of action, parliament said on Saturday.

Mbete had noted with dismay the dissemination of false, malicious, and defamatory gossip on the Twitter social media platform claiming that she had several business interests which were not divulged to parliament's registrar of members’ interests, parliamentary spokesman Moloto Mothapo said on Saturday.

"The source of these outrageous and spurious claims, which have been retweeted thousands of times and repeated by other accounts, seems to be a parody Twitter account called @AdvBarryRoux. According to this account, 'Baleka Mbete owns 146 trucks, her trucks transport iron ore and coke (not cold drink some type of coal) from kuruman to durban, and she hired 136 Zimbabweans and only 10 south africans. She did not disclose this to parliament. #ZumaFiles'.

"Another account, @alfred_cabonena, rehashes similar claims: 'Know your politician - Baleka Mbete (speaker of parliament) owns 146 trucks, her trucks transport iron ore and coke (not cold drink some type of coal) from kuruman to durban, surprisingly she hired 136 Zimbabweans and only 10 south africans'.

"The faceless @AdvBarryRoux account, in particular, had been spreading fabricated and malicious claims against prominent South Africans seemingly without any shred of evidence," Mothapo said.

Mbete placed it on the record that all the allegations against her in these tweets were false and baseless. She had no interests, financial or otherwise, in any of the business entities stated, let alone logistics or trucking companies. All her assets had been declared, as required by the parliamentary ethics code, and were a matter of public information.

Whatever the intention of this account might be, those responsible for it ought to know they had no right under the law to disseminate false, libelous, slanderous, or defamatory gossip against others on social media.

"The speaker respects the right of all South Africans to freedom of speech, which includes freedom to receive or impart information or ideas. However, such rights come with responsibilities and may not defame others without evidence. In this regard, the speaker is seeking legal advice on the matter for an appropriate course of action," Mothapo said.

African News Agency/ANA