The Western Cape High Court has granted Independent Newspapers permission to get a controversial ANC report – or at least parts of it – relating to the “brown envelope” journalism saga.
The ANC has five days to hand over the document to the court. However, it is not yet certain whether Judge Bennie Griesel will provide the media company access to the full report.
He will look at the report first to determine whether there is any ANC information in the document that does not relate to the “brown envelope” saga. Only then will Judge Griesel decide whether to make the entire report available or just part of it. The report details the findings of an internal ANC inquiry into the saga, headed by Deputy Justice Minister Andries Nel.
The “brown envelope” scandal, which first emerged six years ago, relates to alleged payments to journalists by former ANC office-bearers in the Western Cape government.
They were allegedly paid to write favourable articles about then premier Ebrahim Rasool in order to promote his faction, which at the time was feuding with a faction led by then-provincial secretary of the ANC, Mcebisi Skwatsha.
The dispute raged for years between 2004 and 2009.
Two Cape Argus political journalists , Ashley Smith and Joseph Aranes, were specifically accused of having received payments, and last year, Smith came forward with an affidavit saying that they had, in fact, been paid.
Independent Newspapers lodged a high court application to get access to the inquiry documents, in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act, in June. The ANC opposed the court action.
Rasool resigned as premier in 2008 but is now South Africa’s ambassador to the US.
Judge Griesel added:
“A premier found guilty of arranging benefits for journalists – paid for by a province – in return for favourable coverage would no doubt be guilty of a serious violation of the law and serious misconduct.” - Cape Times