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War between Mbalula and Journalist Grootes

Published May 29, 2022

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By: Siyabonga Sithole

Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula has launched an attack on Journalist Stephen Grootes labeling him a ‘latter-day Joseph Goebbels’.

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This follows a recent opinion piece penned by Grootes where he accused Mbalula of “lying and weird behavior unbecoming of a Cabinet Minister.”

“Mr Grootes behaves like a latter day, Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi chief son Doctor and propagandist who believed that if you a lie is repeated frequently enough, the people will eventually believe its gospel truth. That is how he defended fascism. He is not raising any public discourse but a spurious attack disguised as objective criticism,” Mbalula wrote in his response to Stephen Grootes recent opinion piece in the Daily Maverick.

Mbalula also accused Grootes of being an embedded journalist who has sacrificed his journalistic ethos to the gutter and narrow political interests.

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“ The diatribe melted out by Grootes demonstrates how deeply embedded he is in gutter journalism that relies on innuendo and lies to advance his self-serving agenda. I would not ordinarily respond to criticism about my work because that comes with the job. However, plain lies and embedded journalism disguised as public discourse requires a response.

Groote's opinion piece comes after Mbalula joked that he was in Ukraine after posting on Twitter that he had arrived in Ukraine.

“ It is rather telling that his polemic is anchored on Ukraine Tweet, which was clearly satire and metaphor published on social media platform. This clearly signals how he is prepared to stop (at)the best war drums and call for my removal as a minister,” Mbalula writes in his response to Grootes article published on Daily Maverick.

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The broadcaster , had also called for Mbalula to be removed by President Ramaphosa saying despite Mbalula’s ‘unbecoming behavior’, Ramaphosa had failed to remove or act against him as the minister of transport.

“ Despite the transport minister lying bombast and general incidents of behaviour unbecoming of a cabinet minister, Ramaphosa is not moving against him. Never has the president moved tourism minister Lindiwe Sisulu, who had accused him of lying. This suggests there are potential boundaries to Ramaphosa’s power and that these are set by the ANC and not our society,” wrote Grootes.

Grootes also accused Mbalula of making empty promises and announcing projects which he has not been able to keep adding that Mbalula had no constituency within the ANC and in the real world.

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“Mr Grootes talks about constituency in the middle of ANC factions. In his own eyes I must be sanctioned because I belong to none of the factions. No one will plead my case should I be removed. In this context, I do not belong to any faction. He is correct, I do not belong to any faction. My constituency is the ANC in particular and South Africa in general.

Mbalula further accused Grootes of campaigning for awards at his expense and using his name to further the ends of his sponsors within the ANC.

“ I will not defend myself dealing with falsehoods that are used to chase awards at my expense. I am aware of the interests Grootes is representing which are sponsored by factions within the ruling party. He is not the first to launch a campaign casting aspersions on my integrity and call to question my competence as a minister,” Mbalula said.

On his radio show on the weekend, Grootes interviewed minister I the presidency Mondli Gungubele and asked him if the President would act against Mbalula for lying that he had gone to Ukraine. However, Gungubele declined to comment on the issue saying it was a separate matter.

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