The office of former South African president Thabo Mbeki has reacted to an article published in The Guardian, calling it a “(mis)interpretation” and “deliberate distortion” of comments Mbeki made about President Jacob Zuma in the aftermath of the chaotica href=”http:www.thedailyvox.co.zasona2015-eff-booted-out-da-walked-out-anc-chickened-out” State of the Nation Address (Sona)a.
David Smith, the journalist who penned the article, wrote that in “Mbeki’s view, Zuma should have directly answered” members of Parliament who asked when the money spent on his Nkandla home upgrades would be repaid. Mbeki allegedly told the Guardian that “he thinks it would have been the easiest way to deal with the issue”.But the office of the former president has denied these claims, saying the article is Smith’s “own narrow interpretation” of Mbeki’s comments, rather than the former president’s actual beliefs or views.
Mbeki made his comments during a question and answer session with students from the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute. The session was filmed and uploaded to YouTube. During the final 18 minutes of the video, Mbeki makes the statements which Smith refers to in his article.
“We listen to the State of the Nation address, where he’s [President Zuma] going to make an assessment of the state of the nation and tell us where to go. He is held up because I don’t know who did what about signals, and then his own microphone won’t go on, then he must take questions from the floor, and so on and so on. I’m saying forget the person – just look at the office [of the president]. Just even looking at the office, as a people and a country are we not to say let us respect this office? There’s something that is politically wrong, it’s not administratively wrong, and because it’s politically wrong, let’s isolate it: what is the problem? Did we just inherit foreign institutions which we now can’t manage or does the reason lie elsewhere? Is it pehaps what was said about small left factions trying to impose their views or whatever? Let the country confront this Parliament and the rest of the country. What I’m saying is I think it was a political problem, and let’s put aside for a moment the rulebook. We wont’ discard [it], we will come back to it, but let’s not start there, because if we start there it’s not going to solve our problems,” Mbeki said.Mbeki said that “you’ve got to confront the political problem” rather than “trying to solve it within the context of the rules of Parliament”. But does that mean Mbeki believes Zuma was wrong to not directly answer when he will pay back the money?David Smith defended his article on Twitter, saying he had directly spoken to Mbeki about whether the President should answer when the money will be paid back.
But journalists picked up one problem: if Mbeki said he didn’t want to be quoted, then why did Smith quote him?
Some commentators criticised Mbeki’s statement, saying the former president had indeed suggested an answer should have been given.
In the aftermath of Sona, many journalists have been critical of the lack of accountability for the chaos that took place in the House. But it appears that like President Zuma, the Guardian has a few questions of its own to answer.
Source : The Daily Vox