The decision by the African National Congress (ANC) to issue a statement calling on the Cape Town Press Club to revise its membership rules following agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister’s refusal to address the club in the presence of Democratic Alliance (DA) spokesperson Pieter van Dalen reveals the party’s “authoritarian tendencies”, says Van Dalen in a statement released to the media.
The ANC, through its chief whip’s office, said that Joemat-Pettersson’s concerns were reasonable and insisted that press clubs in the country should not be used as political battle fields. “The South African media are extremely capable and competent to robustly hold the government to account. They do not need the assistance of the opposition in its midst to do that. Allowing career politicians to infiltrate the ranks of a press body, and even act as journalists during press briefings, makes a mockery of the independence of the media,” said the ANC in the statement adding that it was disappointed with “the extraordinarily harsh and emotional attack” by both the chairpersons of the National Press Club, Yusuf Abramjee, and Cape Town Press Club, Donwald Pressley.
Van Dalen said he believed that by refusing to address the press club in his presence, Joemat-Pettersson violated the Executive Ethics Code that governs the behaviour of ministers. “I have today written to the Leader of Government Business, Kgalema Motlanthe, requesting him to investigate and recommend further action”.