Nkandla: Don’t Shoot the Messenger

There have been suggestions that the Mail & Guardian was wrong to publish what it claims are extracts from the Public Protector’s report into Nkandla. It was a draft report and may change. However, the counter-argument is that if our President has indeed been siphoning off public cash for this private complex, and has been lying about this, then there is a compelling argument that this was a worthwhile exercise. We asked a few of our experts for their views….

Journalism Professor and former Editor of the M&G Anton Harber:
The saga of the Nkandla report has shown that attempts to suppress such information will only fire up those who are determined to get it out. Censorship was defeated in the process, as was a deceitful attempt to protect the president from public accountability. Would it be more fair under regular circumstances for such reports to be finalised before being released? It probably would be, but in this instance what took precedence was getting the information out in the face of attempts to suppress it. As long as the reports make it clear that the findings are not final, then publishing it serves the fundamental constitutional values of holding the powerful to account and enforcing open government.

Mario Pretorius of Telemasters:
The thoroughness of Ms Tuli Madonsela means that the Final Report on Nkandla may differ around the edges, but the core will remain: current President Jacob Zuma is called a liar and a thief. No efluxion of time will alter the finding, unless she is silenced to Tula Madonsela. Give that girl a Bells. As for the ruling party, nay kleptocratic kakistocracy, I hope with every fibre in my being that these charges will stick and bring down this sordid mess of dream poachers. Give that man a jail cell.

Jeremy Sampson of Interbrand Sampson:
I would suggest the job of the government and of the President, who are all public servants, is to lead by example for the good of all South Africans. If it was not for the media, the South Africans voters would not know of the outrageous pilfering of State funds – that’s yours and mine, not theirs – the lying, the self-enrichment of a totally corrupt government. We are told daily of the criminality and lack of accountability. The forefathers of the ANC must be turning in their graves. Mr Mandela, if he is aware of what is going on, would be very saddened. It’s about time those few good men left in government stood up; otherwise they will be tarred with the same brush.

Journalist and Broadcaster Benedicta Dube:
At what point will the government under President Jacob Zuma respect the role of a free press and at what point will those who advise the president realise that the more you hide information, the more journalists will want to satisfy their own curiosity? Gagging the press on Nkandla will not dilute the stench that it represents. I wish those in charge could realise that South Africa has bigger problems than Nkandlagate, but unfortunately it happens to define exactly what is wrong with this country’s leadership.

Leon Louw from the Free Market Foundation:
The notion that there are security excuses for media muzzling is too manifestly absurd to be dignified by countervailing comment. All there is to see is readily visible in detail by way of three easy options: flying low over Nkandla as I have done, zooming in with Google Earth as I have done, and looking from a nearby hilltop (with binoculars, telephoto lens or telescope if you are visually challenged) which I haven’t bothered to do.

Conclusion: When we see the excellent job done by the M&G, we understand government’s intention to introduce new Secrecy legislation. Very worrying!

Tweet of the Day: Puns (@omgthatspunny): Velcro – what a rip off!

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