SA Today: The abuse of media to drive

internal agendas in the DA

18 May 2014
Release: immediate

The Sunday Times today (18 May) makes false claims about what transpired at a meeting of the DA’s
Federal Executive (Fedex) on Friday 16 May. Given the inaccuracy of the article, I feel it is necessary to set
the record straight in this newsletter.

I will also set out why these false attacks are being launched at this time.

The Sunday Times story is misleadingly designed to make it appear as if it is based on a public attack by
me against Lindiwe Mazibuko. This is devoid of truth.

The story has been concocted by twisting selective leaks from the DA’s Federal Executive meeting, in
which, inevitably, Lindiwe’s decision to go to Harvard University, and the implications of her decision, were

At the meeting, I answered questions dispassionately and accurately. We also discussed the problem of
selective leaks from the Fedex to advance personal agendas in the DA’s succession race.

Inevitably, these leaks occurred again after this meeting, resulting in an entirely false Sunday
Times headline and introductory paragraphs, as well as many additional distortions.

It is a convention not to speak out of Federal Executive. But given that a few members of the Fedex have
chosen to ignore this convention, I must set out the facts.

At the meeting, the DA Eastern Cape leader Athol Trollip asked me a series of direct questions around
Lindiwe’s decision to leave Parliament, as he is entitled to do.

I responded as follows:

1) I conceded that I had worked very hard to promote Lindiwe’s career. In fact, I said I had never done as
much to promote any person’s career in the DA before. This is an objective, evidence-based fact. I did not
say I “made” her. And I did not say I “saved” her. I certainly did not say that she would be “nothing
without me”, as the Sunday Times headline falsely claims.

2) I said that I had repeatedly taken responsibility for mistakes made in Parliament, in an attempt to
protect her and the Parliamentary team. That is also a fact, and no-one in the know would dispute it.

3) I said in response to Athol’s question that, when Lindiwe originally said she wanted to run for
Parliamentary Leader at the mid-term, I advised her against it, for reasons that I explained to Fedex. When
she was determined to run, I backed her because, in trying to diversify the party, I felt it was important for
her to win.

4) At no stage in the Fedex meeting did I launch any “scathing attack” on Lindiwe. I simply put the facts on
the table. I said that after she was elected, a “Berlin wall” was erected between her office and mine, and
my advice was ignored. Major decisions were made without any discussion, resulting in serious mistakes,
for which I then stepped forward and took responsibility. This is also common cause, and evidenced by
the record.

Because of this, resistance to her leadership emerged in the Parliamentary caucus, which became deeply
divided. It became clear that many people were determined to vote for a change of leadership after the

I repeatedly attempted to calm the waters by opening communication channels. This was rejected.

5) During the course of the recent election campaign, I heard rumours that Lindiwe intended to go abroad
as soon as the election was over.

6) I didn’t believe this could be true, but because Lindiwe was on sick leave, and because I had been told
this information in confidence, I let it pass. I just did not think it was possible.

7) When it turned out in fact to be true, and I was told a few hours before it appeared in the newspaper,
the full picture fell into place. It was clear that she faced the prospect of defeat in the election for
Parliamentary Leader, and wanted to avoid this. That is quite understandable, but I would have preferred
her to have levelled with me, and told me the truth early on.

8) She gave her reasons for going to Harvard to the Fedex only after the announcement appeared in the
media, and we agreed to draw a line under it. I wished her well, and spent the day talking to the media
defending her decision.

9) Gareth van Onselen then announced he was going to give the “real reasons” for Lindiwe’s departure.

10) I then spoke to Lindiwe telephonically and mentioned that it would do serious damage to her
credibility if he gave different reasons from those she had given to Fedex and that she should, at all costs
seek to avoid a contradiction between the reasons she had given and the ones that Gareth van Onselen
gave. I noted that, during the previous week, one of Lindiwe’s closest confidantes had been seen briefing
Gareth van Onselen.

The subsequent sequence of events speaks for itself, and I set it all out, logically, to the Fedex.

The meeting was a full, open, frank discussion among adults seeking to deal with a complex situation and
move forward. It is very rare that political parties can have discussions of this depth and maturity. It is
unfortunate that some members of this leadership body are furnishing the media with selective “leaks” in
order to advance their own succession agendas, both in the Parliamentary caucus and in the party.

Equally concerning is the way that some media platforms are being abused by so-called journalists and
columnists who are embedded in a particular faction of the DA.

It should be of serious concern to journalists and media practitioners that such individuals are using their
media “cover” to drive a factional agenda in the DA’s succession battle.

It is time to draw a line in the sand. In the DA we will discuss how best to deal with the issue of individuals
driving distorted factional agendas through their allies in the press.

If those media houses that harbour journalists with factional agendas want to protect their own credibility,
they will also look at ways to stop their publications from being abused. I will be requesting meetings with
the editors of the Business Day and the Sunday Times to discuss the way forward with them.

The DA should be celebrating our best ever electoral performance. I am delighted by our parliamentary
team, and know that we are the only party who can offer a real alternative to the ANC. On Wednesday the
fifth democratic parliament will be inaugurated and Members of Parliament will take the oath of office. I
know the DA will be ready to repay the faith that 4,1 million South Africans placed in us on the 7th of

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