Media personality Dr JJ Tabane is not budging on his utterances and claims made against Trevor Manuel and other current and former leaders of the ANC whom he has accused of having had a hand in the formation of the Congress of the People (Cope).
This comes after the former minister had written to Tabane asking him to “unreservedly withdraw the false, wrongful and unlawful statements” that have sought to put him at the centre of the formation of Cope.
Tabane, known for his penchant for “speaking truth to power”, told this newspaper that he stood by his utterances which he made on a podcast Hustlers Corner by DJ Sbu on YouTube over three weeks ago.
“Dear Trevor. I received your letter of 9 May. I was interviewed on The Hustlers Corner and was asked a question relating to the formation of Cope. I responded to this question and nothing in my answer was defamatory, contrary to what you allege.
“I therefore stand by that answer and have no intention of withdrawing it or making any apologies as demanded by you. If you choose to take any legal action, I will defend it vigorously. Yours in truthly,” Tabane signed off his response to Manuel.
Manuel said he was giving Tabane until the end of business on Wednesday to comply with the demand, failing which the former finance minister would be forced to commence with proceedings against him.
At the centre of tensions between Manuel and Tabane are allegations that Manuel as well as other current and former leaders of the ANC such as former finance minister Tito Mboweni, current Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana and former president Thabo Mbeki were instrumental in helping to form Cope following the ANC elective conference of 2007, which resulted in the recalling of Mbeki from office.
Cope spokesperson Denis Bloem said he had seen the letter from Manuel, but declined to comment on the issues it raised.
In the letter seen by The Star, Manuel says he is “compelled” to address Tabane in relation to the statements he had made during an interview on The Hustlers Corner aired on social media platform YouTube more than three weeks ago.
“During the aforementioned interview you boldly claimed that I and several others played a role in the formation of the Congress of the People (Cope). After mentioning me, you said they can deny all they want, and he (in reference to me) can be as angry as he wants.
“Well, I am not angry, but I am outraged at the falsehoods you spread. Your statement is simply not true. You peddled this false narrative in the full knowledge of its falseness by virtue of, at least, your apparent involvement in the formation of Cope at the time,” Manuel says.
The former Cabinet member, who has since retired from politics, says at the time of the formation of the party he was an active member of the national executive committee (NEC) of the ANC and thus could not have been part of Cope’s formation due to his loyalty to the governing party.
“At the time of the founding of Cope, I was a member of the national executive committee of the ANC. I remained a member of the NEC until I stepped down at the 53rd national conference that convened in Mangaung in December 2012. Your accusation that I was involved in the formation of Cope while an NEC member of the ANC impugns my integrity,” Manuel states.
He says such utterances by Tabane, who holds a prominent role in the eyes of the public due to his standing as a media personality, is detrimental to his reputation and standing in society.
“From my perspective, you have accused me of duplicitous conduct. This incorrect perception, unless immediately retracted and corrected, can and will take hold in the minds of the public at large, thereby undermining my standing in the broader South African community,” the letter says.
Manuel is calling for Tabane to ensure that his apology is published prominently in print and other media platforms by the end of business on Wednesday.