Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)
Durban - With the bribery allegations made by Minister Gwede Mantashe over the weekend still dominating the national discourse, the minister’s political boss is refusing to be drawn into the matter.

On Monday, presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko referred all questions about the matter to Mantashe’s office. This was after Independent Media wanted to know whether President Cyril Ramaphosa has called Mantashe to explain the shocking allegations that he bribed two Sunday World newspaper journalists to kill as story about his alleged infidelity.

Diko briefly said they are not dealing with the matter and said all questions about it should be referred to the minister’s office.

The minister himself has maintained silence over the matter since it came to the public domain on Sunday morning. 

That did not help him though as he was already under fire from all fronts for brazenly claiming he paid a bribe to kill a story, with the EFF saying he should hand himself to the police. The South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) was appalled and said brown envelope journalism is completely counter to journalism ethics and Mantashe's conduct was worrisome as he is a senior political figure.

It said it would be taking this matter up. 

“As a result of these shocking allegations, SANEF will be pursuing the following actions:  Writing to the Minister to request that he reveals the names of the journalists involved; supporting @SundayWorldZA ’s investigations into the matter. Supporting @SundayWorldZA ’s commitment to ensuring that all Sunday World journalists sign pledges to ensure ethical journalism,” the forum said in the statement.

On Monday, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said it has requested an investigation by Parliament’s Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests on the conduct relating to Mantashe. The party’s Shadow Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, Kevin Mileham, said as members of parliament, ministers must be held to a high standard and must provide ethical leadership to the people they serve. 

“By admitting to paying off two journalists, the Minister did not act “in accordance with the public trust placed in [him]”, nor did he “maintain public confidence and trust in the integrity of Parliament,” Mileham said. 

In a statement issued on Sunday, Moshoeshoe Monare from Tiso Black Star, said as the company that owned the title until June 21, this year and later sold it to Fundzuzi Media, they have noted with shock the alleged admission by a sitting government minister to have corruptly bribed two journalists.

"These allegations were never brought to the attention of the company. The press code and the company’s own editorial policy are opposed to any form of corrupt and unethical journalism. It’s a dismissible offence to accept money or any form of bribe to write or not to write a story,“ Monare said.