THE story of the Sunday Independent published on 19 November 2023 on print and online headlined “MEC PLANS TO BUY R60 MILLION HELICOPTER AMID SERVICE DELIVERY COMPLAINTS” refers.
The MEC, hereby, sets the record straight and denies the allegation that was published by the Sunday Independent.
The MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) in the Eastern Cape, Zolile Williams does not plan to buy a helicopter for R60 million as the Sunday Independent reported on November 19.
Cogta has never discussed any plan to purchase a helicopter. Even if the budget was available, a helicopter would not feature in any assets the department would contemplate to buy.
The article is riddled with concoctions of conjectures and falsehoods. The information in the story is sourced from faceless sources from within the department.
No plan exists to buy a helicopter in the budget of the provincial government.
The preoccupation of the department is to deliver services to the communities; such as water, electricity, roads, bridges, storm-water drainages, close potholes, build schools, hospitals, parks, and refurbish the appearance of our towns.
To this end, it would be foolhardy of the MEC to buy a helicopter under the current economic climate. No right-thinking person would even contemplate that.
The article has the audacity to say that the MEC insists on buying the helicopter even contrary to being advised otherwise.
No such item was ever discussed at any meeting. The purpose of the article is nothing else but a bullet to cast aspersions on the dignity of the MEC.
To remind the journalist about his media query to the MEC, he wanted to know if the department was planning to buy a helicopter for R60 million? The MEC replied and said that no such a plan existed.
The MEC went further and said that the department was planning to buy drones that would help the province to detect illegal circumcision schools that lead to the deaths of many initiates in the province and to identify and detect disaster stricken places as the province is prone to disasters.
However, the journalist ignored this crucial information and chose to write irrelevant points that had nothing to do with his original questions to the department.
We have become inured to the shallow journalism that attacks government departments under the pretext of keeping the government on its toes. But this one cannot be tolerated.
Journalists must be sharp and hold government accountable. Journalists must do deep research and come up with rich stories and not grapevine.
The narrative inherent in the story is that the MEC splurges the taxpayers’ money carelessly while the Eastern Cape is starving. The article casts an aspersion on the wisdom of the MEC.
Not only was the story laced with falsehoods but it violated the following provisions of the Press Council Code of Ethics and Conduct articles, 1.1; 1.2; 1.3; 1.7; 3.3.
Despite having explained to the journalist that the province does not plan to buy a helicopter of this staggering price. Despite having clarified to the journalist that such a thinking does not exist in the province, the journalist went ahead to publish libel.
The libel portrayed the MEC in an unviable light. The media law defines a libel as a published false statement that is damaging to a person’s reputation. The story is exactly that.
Spokesperson for the MEC of CoGTA (EC)