30 September 2020
I would like to state on record that I received absolutely no payment from Mr Edwin Sodi, contrary to recent statements in sections of the media. Indeed, Mr Sodi himself clarified this matter at the Zondo Commission this week.
Had the journalists simply ‘followed the money’ they would have found that no money was paid to me by Mr Sodi, either in 2017, or at any other time.
And they have not, of course, found any evidence that Mr Sodi deposited any money whatsoever in my personal account, nor has the Zondo Commission, before which Mr Sodi appeared on 29 September. The simple truth is that this never happened!
So, what are the facts?
In 2017, I was part of a general appeal to raise money to keep three children in school – the children of deceased trade unionists in financially distressed circumstances following the deaths of their parents.
Several sources were approached including Mr Sodi. Mr Sodi made the following payments: R15,000 for school fees deposited directly to the learner’s school account, and R30,000 was paid directly for accommodation of two learners to allow them to continue with their schooling.
Mr Sodi confirmed these facts before the Zondo Commission and said ‘unfortunately’ my name was mentioned in reports too.
I am not personally related to the learners concerned, nor did I secure any personal gain by approaching Mr Sodi to assist them.
And crucially Mr Sodi did not get any gratification either for this kind gesture.
It is deeply concerning that journalists have used a leaked document from the Commission. Equally, it is distressing that the journalists concerned have abdicated their professional and ethical responsibility of first authenticating the allegations that they are given by their sources.
When they act in this fashion, they are opening themselves to being abused by sources with nefarious intentions. Inadvertently, they become players in factional political squabbles plaguing our society. Journalists do not have an unconditional licence to print whatever that is being leaked to them.
It is appalling that not a single journalist who covered this ‘story’ bothered to get the facts right. And, presumably, nor did their news editors require them to do so. The urge to publish a scoop was simply too much to resist.
Is it because the standard narrative is that every Minister or politician is guilty of every accusation flung at him or her? Frankly, I’m owed an apology for this by the journalists and their editors.
But will I get these apologies? I seriously doubt that. Yet, we as politicians are forever asked to apologise. That my integrity and reputation has been tarnished is a side issue.
Of course, I could take this matter to the Press Ombud, but I do not want to burden them or be seen to be muzzling the media.
But an apology from the journalists will be most welcome!
I have sought to clarify this matter with the Zondo Commission and assured it of my support for its work. I have also pledged my full support and any further information it may require.
In conclusion, I would like to state categorically that I have nothing to hide. And I shall help any law enforcement agencies tasked to investigate into this matter.
Source: Department of Employment and Labour at http://www.labour.gov.za/minister-of-employment-and-labour%E2%80%99s-response-to-allegations-of-receiving-money-from-mr-sodi