Businessman and founding leader of the Capitalist Party of South Africa (ZACP), Kanthan Pillay, will be joining 24-hour news channel eNCA‘s senior management on a “short term contract”, the company’s acting editor-in-chief Jeremy Maggs confirmed.
“He has not been appointed head of news,” he added, addressing rumours which have been circulating and were featured in The Citizen earlier on Thursday.
This follows the tragic death of eNCA director of news Ben Said towards the end of August. Said drowned during a diving accident.
Pillay was the first editor of eNCA’s sister channel eTV at its onset.
A source within eNCA told The Citizen earlier on Thursday that Pillay had been “confirmed” as the new head of news, following a rumour spread by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.
Ndlozi said on Twitter he had been “reliably informed” that Pillay had been appointed as head of news.
“This is the founder of the Purple Cow party which contested the 2019 elections on a highly reactionary ticket,” his tweet continued. “If this is true, then [eNCA] is doomed for good!”
Messages sent to Pillay himself on Wednesday evening, as well as a follow-up question sent on Thursday morning about whether his new position means he will have to resign from politics, have not yet been responded to.
Another source at eNCA, however, said he was under the impression Pillay was no longer involved with the ZACP.
This is a developing story.
I have been reliably informed that @eNCA has appointed Kanthan Pillay as head of news at ENCA. This is the founder of the Purple Cow party which contested the 2019 elections on a highly reactionary ticket.
If this is true, then @ENCA is doomed for good!
— Mbuyiseni Ndlozi (@MbuyiseniNdlozi) October 9, 2019
Pillay formed the ZACP – nicknamed the “purple cows” – earlier this year, recruiting nine other people to join him. The party contested the May 8 elections nationally, achieving over 12,000 votes and falling short of attaining any parliamentary seats.
Pillay and his party had high hopes for their first attempt to end up in parliament, having said on multiple occasions that they had set their sights on gaining 10 seats.
“We hope to get at least ten MPs into the national assembly,” the party’s official website said.
“This will need about 45,000 votes per candidate or about half-million votes in total. We believe this is realistic.”
The party courted controversy in its appointment of Roman Cabanac as one of its leaders, a legal consultant and podcaster who some have accused of having ties to the alt-right. The Jewish Report reported that Cabanac denied this was the case, and defended his right to engage with anti-Semitic and otherwise controversial commentators in online debates.
The party’s official Twitter account, following the elections, made it clear they would not be throwing in the towel.
“We in the ZACP sincerely thank more than 12,000 fellow South Africans who believed in us and voted for our principles every [sic] though we were around for only six weeks. We are in this for the long haul. Expect announcements from us next week as to where we go next,” they tweeted.
UPDATE: An earlier version of his story reported that Kanthan Pillay was “confirmed” as head of news based on an anonymous source within the company. It has since been confirmed by eNCA acting editor-in-chief Jeremy Maggs that Pillay has in fact joined eNCA senior management on a temporary basis, rather than as head of news.