Complainant: Andre Lotter
Lodged by: Andre Lotter
Article: NFP leaders are lazy, says party president – NFP: Calls on them to step down if they don’t want to work
Author of article: Clive Ndou
Date: 10 April 2015
Respondent: Steven Motale, editor of The Citizen
Lötter is complaining about a story on page 6 in The Citizen of 30 March 2015, headlined NFP leaders are lazy, says party president – NFP: Calls on them to step down if they don’t want to work.
He complains that the story erroneously created the impression that the journalist had obtained his information from kaMagwaza-Msibi herself.
The report, written by Clive Ndou, quoted kaMagwaza-Msibi as saying that she had launched a stinging attack on her party’s leaders, “accusing them of failing to keep the fledgling party afloat during her absence”.
The complaint in more detail
Lötter says that the NFP leader has been absent from her office for four months – which raises the likelihood that she is gravely ill (she has allegedly suffered a severe stroke). He argues that Ndou must have known this, since he regularly reports on the NFP. “[I] was thus surprised that [the reporter]all of a sudden publishes statements from the NFP President as if they were made by…herself.”
He adds that the statement was made by Canaan Mdletshe, a media liaison officer working in his office – who had made a false statement, purporting to be speaking on behalf of kaMagwaza-Msibi. He argues that Ndou should have doubted Mdletshe’s statement as the latter has a history of being untruthful when dealing with the press, and that he should have checked with kaMagwaza-Msibi whether or not she had issued the statement herself.
The Citizen’s response
Motale says Mdletshe is kaMagwaza-Msibi’s official spokesman, and his statement was issued on an official NFP letterhead.
If an official spokesperson releases a media statement on behalf of his or her employer, the press has no reason to disbelieve it, or to try and establish the veracity of that statement. If Lötter has a problem with Mdletshe, he is free to deal with it internally.
The complaint is dismissed.
Our Complaints Procedures lay down that within seven working days of receipt of this decision, either party may apply for leave to appeal to the Chairperson of the SA Press Appeals Panel, Judge Bernard Ngoepe, fully setting out the grounds of appeal. He can be contacted at Khanyim@ombudsman.org.za.