The African National Congress has lodged a formal complaint with the
press ombudsman about articles in the Sunday Times and the City Press,
the party said, according to a report on iol.co.za.
The articles in the weekly papers were illustrative of an abuse of press freedom, ANC spokespersopn Jessie Duarte said in a statement.
The City Press article appeared on the front page on August 16, reporting on deteriorating relations between Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and ANC treasurer general, Mathews Phosa.
"… the newspaper failed to report news truthfully, accurately and fairly. In failing to adhere to provisions of the PCPP [Press Code of Professional Practice], the City Press has chosen to use 'sources' to back up a fabrication of facts in an attempt to create sensation," Duarte said.
The Sunday Times article appeared on August 9. It said criticism of President Jacob Zuma's appointment of "minorities" to strategic economic posts was a "debate raging within official party structures".
The report said ANC bigwigs, Nathi Mthethwa, Lindiwe Sisulu and Tony Yengeni were among those who questioned the appointments.
"Elevating claims of unnamed sources to the status of the fact and failing to come up with any supporting fact, represents a blatant departure from the norms and standards expected of media institutions of the stature of City Press and Sunday Times," she said.
Sunday Times editor Mondli Makhanya said he had no comment.
City Press editor Ferial Haffajee was "surprised and perplexed" at hearing that the ruling party had already lodged a complaint with the ombudsman.
She said the paper was putting together a fairly standard story on the ANC's next succession race — and in light of the "fierceness" of the last one, the issue was pursued.
From the point the reporter began working on the story, Haffajee said she received six calls from a variety of ANC officials, including Duarte and ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe.
As the paper's deadline loomed, it was told by Phosa's lawyer that it would be interdicted if it went ahead with the story.
Haffajee said the paper agreed not to run the initial story but went ahead with publishing Phosa's attempt to silence the paper.
It quoted Phosa's lawyer, Nicqui Galaktiou, saying that the allegations against Phosa were "untrue and unsubstantiated" and if printed would be damaging to his reputation.
Click here to read the full report, posted on iol.co.za.