BOKAMOSO | The ANC’s own “Infogate” is an assault on our democracy

About this Article

“Fake news” is a term frequently used by newly-elected US President Donald Trump, who recently employed it to bully and belittle a reporter from CNN, one of the world’s most respected and successful news outlets. The term broadly refers to the recent surge in the shadowy use of false news websites and social media accounts in an attempt to control or influence public sentiment. This is nothing new to South Africa.

In the mid 1970’s the Apartheid government was starting to feel the pressure from an increasingly critical media. The state-controlled news was being crowded out by critical voices in the independent press. Their solution? Create their own “fake news” by bribing news agencies, buying international newspapers and using government money to establish The Citizen – an English-language daily that would print pro-National Party news.

The “Information Scandal” was traced all the way to the top – to then Prime Minister BJ Vorster, to Information Minister Connie Mulder and to the Secretary of the Department of Information, Eschel Rhoodie. Once exposed, Vorster was forced to resign in disgrace.

This week it was revealed that the ANC ran its own fake news propaganda machine in the 2016 local government election, complete with “fake news” website, false opposition party posters and “paid Twitter”.

To be clear, this wasn’t just an election strategy gone wrong. To say that it was merely a poorly thought-through PR campaign would be downplaying the severity of what the ANC has done. And to deny, in the face of mounting evidence, that this campaign carried both the knowledge and the blessing of the ANC (as both Zizi Kodwa and Gwede Mantashe have been scrambling to do) would simply be more of the same lies.

There is nothing wrong with having your message spread through advocates for your cause. Independent people who are known, liked and trusted can play an important role in amplifying a message. The DA has a large team of social media supporters that we call “brand ambassadors”, because they believe in our cause and want to add their voices to ours.

But this kind of advocacy has to be based on trust and truth. The “influencer” who might speak up for you must do so because he or she trusts that your message is not only for the good of the country, but also that it is truthful. It can never be part of a misinformation campaign, based on “alternative facts” and with the deliberate intention of misrepresenting other parties and defrauding the electorate.

Everything about this ANC campaign was deceitful and malicious. It had nothing to do with promoting the values, the achievements and the plans of the ANC, and was only about one thing: making lies about the opposition appear as believable and legitimate as possible. It included printing fake election posters and leaflets, setting up fake news websites and running a social media smear campaign against opposition parties and their leaders.

This goes beyond mischief. It is a criminal offense that carries, for good reason, harsh penalties of up to ten years in jail. Such actions threaten to derail the legitimacy of our democracy and could plunge our country into chaos and violence.

Little wonder then that the ANC are scrambling so hard to deny this modern-day Info Scandal. They know that this is one of the most serious allegations a party can face. They are now in full damage-control mode. But the facts, which include an offer from the ANC to pay R1 million in “hush money” to the whistle-blower, will not go away. Eventually they will have to take responsibility.

The DA will not let this scandal die down quietly. I will be meeting with the Commissioners of the IEC next week, and will press them for a full investigation into the ANC’s conduct. And, if we must, we will take this to the courts. We will continue to play by the rules that keep our democracy on track, and we will continue to expose those who violate these rules.

But in the meantime, keep your eyes wide open. Know that you are being targeted by fake news and propaganda. Question everything and make it your mission to know when your trust is being abused.

, , , , , , ,

  • jojo

    Started long ago,New Age news,paid in part by sabc,but little said about this inquiry into SABC.
    Worst than donald dump,and his empty hateful BS

  • Elm Lightworker

    It is quite despicable how the DA now uses a ‘FAKE NEWS’ tactic, while having the gall to complain about it. I’ve followed the Trump campaign, the Main Stream USA media and the highly regarded alternative media sites like Infowars.com. The lies spread by the USA main stream media is simply mind boggling. Trump did not let that CNN reporter speak – as he was once again stirring the pot with rubbish. Trump however later in the press conference allowed another CNN reporter to question him and he politely answered. Anyone these days who believe what the USA main stream media broadcasts – without checking for themselves is an idiot. And to so piously cite this rude CNN reporter in the beginning of your article just shows what a fool you have become sir. Seems you like being led by the nose too. I’ve lost all faith in you as a leader and I am posting this to Facebook.

    • LuSypher

      I am afraid I have to agree with you. Sad, hey?

      • Elm Lightworker

        I am saddened by this. Anyone who reads his newsletter will now automatically be anti-Trump. And so the cycle of hate builds upon itself. The comment below is a grand illustration of my point. I am not going to reply to it – for only an ignorant fool would display his idiocy for the whole world to see.

      • Elm Lightworker

        Thanks. LuSyper. As I said to Catherine, see comment above we must think before we say something stupid.

    • Lee Gruben

      I’m assuming this is a paid for Gupta account. Joined today.

    • Catherine de Lange

      I agree with you totally!

      • Elm Lightworker

        Thanks. My main point is: Put brain into gear before putting words to paper. But then again many people have forgotten they have a brain, nevermind trying to use it.

    • Geoff Smailes

      1) Please answer these simple questions, as honestly as might be possible from behind your pseudonym and bright colours:
      1.1) are you an anc / zupta troll ?
      1.2) if not, how do you justify taking such a negative view of the DA Leader (and presumably his party) apparently based entirely on his OPINION of Trump vs a CNN reporter ?
      2) In any case, this article is about the ongoing despicable behaviour of the anc and not about Triump / US politics. My opinion, for what it might be worth, is that MM’s reference to Trump / CNN is misplaced and irrelevant to the point he is trying to make about fake news.
      3) It is not so clever to upvote your own comments, especially when yours turns out to be the only upvote so far.

      • Elm Lightworker

        No, I am neither ANC nor Gupta troll. I am however very disappointed when our DA leader starts an article by bringing in an issue that has nothing to do with the ANC’s plan to use ‘fake media’ outlets. He is so far off point there that someone should teach him how to write and stay on point. I have great respect for Helen Zille, she came to the point without rambling about crap. When the South African alternative media really takes on the ANC and the Guptas, everyone will remember his leading stupid comment in this article. And that he dislikes ‘fake’ news by whining about a CNN main stream media reporter being put in his place. And yes, I can give myself a thumbs up – I appreciate my comment and I am not shy to show it. And if my bright colours bother you I can only suggest that you get sun
        glasses.

        • Geoff Smailes

          Thank you for your explanation, with which I agree. Perhaps you should communicate your complaint directly to MM. I have done so on more than one occasion and at least received responses. leader@da.org.za I think. Per my post below:
          “MM has made a few gaffes … but he is young for his senior position and will learn from his mistakes. He has enormous responsibility to millions of honest and decent SAs who can’t wait for the anc to implode.” Imho, 2019 will either make or finally break SA. Regards.

    • Chris

      It is a pity that Trump was raised in the article. Irrespective of the viewpoints held on this issue, it is irrelevant to the main thrust of the article, which rightly focus
      es on what the ANC is doing to South Africans. Your first sentence is spot on. Please, lets all concentrate on that.

      • Elm Lightworker

        Hi Chris, I agree with you. We need very vocal anti-ANC and ant-Gupta alternative media outlets for our beloved country. Now only if we had Infowars.com for SA – the ANC government would have a hissy fit! 🙂

    • Valecia Supra

      nou toe nou mr/miss perfect

    • Emma

      This is hilarious. Infowars is owned by Alex Jones who is nothing more than a conspiracy novelist. Infowars is a fake news website.

  • Chris

    This is a most serious affront on the integrity of the state an must be pursued with all vigour.

    But there is a lighter side: The incredible way that someone went to court (of all places!) to try to get the ANC to pay them for their nefarious activities. Do they not realise that this is tantamount to an admission of guilt? Or has corruption become so routine in ANC circles that the perpetrators think it is legitimate business?

    • Elm Lightworker

      Yes, very funny. A crooked PR taking a crooked employer to court. Only in South Africa….

  • Sonette Hill

    I will no longer vote for the DA. CNN is indeed mostly fake news, unless off course you are in full support of Corporate Agendas, and profit above all else! The ANC is no option either, so we live in hope for a political party who cares about our environment, clean food and education for all, rather than assisting Power Addicts.

    • Really Ancient Mariner

      I’m not clear about how you come to the conclusion the DA is ‘assisting power addicts’ (sic). But by not voting for the DA, or any other party for that matter, regardless of how poorly you perceive them, you are squandering your democratic right to choose who governs.

      There is no doubt we are at war with the ANC and tactics are required to win wars. The objective of this war is to get the ANC out. Right now, any party is better than the ANC and the DA is the only one that has a credible chance of getting them out and achieving that objective. Once we have defeated the ANC, then we can decide and elect which party or coalition is best suited to govern the country.

      But until that time, the ANC is going to continue abusing its position, wasting our resources, destroying our credibility, plundering/ruining our economy and, worst of all, failing in its duty and obligation to uplift the poor, uneducated and hopeless under-class.

      You and I and the millions of people of SA have a democratic right to vote; a right we are duty-bound to exercise if we are to move forward. By not exercising that right, by default you lose the right to complain about the government of the day, its policies, its performance, actions or its ethics.

      Like it or not, the DA is capable of ousting the ANC and that’s the main objective here.

      • Geoff Smailes

        Well said !

    • Geoff Smailes

      On which planet do you live ?

      • Chris

        We live in South Africa. Where do you live? If your planet revolves around CNN and Trump then you have totally missed the point of the debate and the threat that the ANC poses to YOUR and MY freedom.

        Trump is a separate debate.

        • Geoff Smailes

          My “planet” post was directed at Sonette Hill’s post, and her post only.

          Had you taken the trouble to review my above response (which you upvoted) to Elm Lightworker, you would have read my standpoint:
          “2) In any case, this article is about the ongoing despicable behaviour of the anc and not about Triump / US politics. My opinion, for what it might be worth, is that MM’s reference to Trump / CNN is misplaced and irrelevant to the point he is trying to make about fake news.”

          No need to apologise.

          • Chris

            Dear Geoff

            My apologies! I see that your comment is indeed addressed to Sonette Hill.

            I did not pay attention to the indentation and inadvertently thought that your comment was addressed to the comment preceding yours. I also blush to admit that I failed to notice that the preceding comment, with which I wholeheartedly agree, was made by you! So I messed up twice, which is a rather dismal record! (More haste, less speed + unnecessary confusion.)

            My comment is more appropriate for the same person that you sent your message to.

            I will try to be more careful in future.

          • Geoff Smailes

            Thank you Chris. At least we’re on the same side, doing what we can to rid ourselves of the anc plague. MM has made a few gaffes (which I have written to the DA about) but he is young for his senior position and will learn from his mistakes. He has enormous responsibility to millions of honest and decent SAs who can’t wait for the anc to implode. Regards.

    • Elm Lightworker

      Sonette, please don’t stop voting for the DA. Just because their leader says some stupid things does not mean we must throw the DA in the trash can. They are our only hope.

  • Anton

    A desperate party resorting to deperate measures in order to cling to power. Bring on 2019. Bring on the DA, the only political party who has the ability to govern effectively and ethically and has the people of SA’s interests at heart!

  • Thabo Rangaka

    Thank you for enlightening us on this Info Scandal. I patiently wait for the 2019 elections – and hope there will be less mischief perpetrated then!

  • Ingrid Luyt

    Mr Maimane, this piece would have passed muster, but for the unfortunate reference to the President of the USA, who is well acquainted with every fake news journalist who sought to skew the election results in favour of that she-devil. No Sir, CNN have lost all credibility, having first abandoned the principles of balanced reporting / factual journalism and thereby their self-respect……… as have MSNBC and the NY Times. I note someone points you in the direction of infowars.com and I would further urge you to acquaint yourself with other credible sources such as Stefan Molineux and Mike Cernovich regarding American politics. It simply will not do for us to have to contend with an Opposition party Leader who is a lightweight, at this stage of our anti-ANC campaign. In case it has escaped notice, both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin represent a return of the Alpha Male to positions of power and I expect this to become a long-overdue world trend.

  • Molotov

    Beyond this, the New Age was paid for via Gupta-ANC sweetheart money and it spreads fake good news and vilifies the opposition, while Iqbal Scurvy’s “Independent” Media was bought with PIC pension fund money. None of thir newspapers make business sense – they make little enough sense anyway. They are the ANC’s Info scandal.This blatantly criminal behaviour is much worse.