COSATU statement on the Sunday Times apologies

The Congress of South African Trade Unions has noted with deep concern the litany of apologies that have been pouring out from the Sunday Times regarding their misrepresentation of facts in the SARS, Cato Manor and rendition stories. The federation is not happy with the paper’s apology.

The Sunday Times stories destroyed people’s lives and also the economy and we do not believe that the Sunday Times can just shrug off this litany of lies and act as if it’s business as usual. These stories muddied the public discourse and left the reputation of the country in tatters.

The South African Revenue Services reputation was torn into pieces by this negative coverage and this contributed to the destabilisation that subsequently followed. This was pure economic sabotage and the paper and its journalists should be held accountable. Equally the editors who signed off on these fake news articles should be held to account. The Sunday Times must disclose, who were their sources who fed them these false and malicious stories and what was their agenda.

Other Media Houses like the The New Age Media have been held to different standards because of their perceived role in aiding and abetting state capture. The Sunday Times cannot just be given a free pass.

The people who bought the paper were also cheated by these scandalous lies and misrepresentation. We accept that the implicated journalists have resigned but the editorial culture that has allowed the newspaper to spread fake news so willingly needs to be changed.

COSATU still believes that there is a need for a radical transformation programme in so far as print media ownership is concerned. Media monopoly is the biggest threat to the media freedom, our democracy and an informed society. Current patterns of concentrated ownership and control of the media promote commercial interests and the logic of the private capitalist market.

The lack of diversity in the print media is deeply worrying and this is not only just about ownership but it also speaks to issues of class content, diversity and language. If it’s acceptable to hold politicians and other private sector leaders to account for lying, the media that claims to be a watchdog cannot therefore act as if these same standards do not apply to them.

Issued by COSATU

Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)
Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794