ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu has threatened to sue demoted former SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng for defamation of character after the man claimed he held a secret meeting with him in a hotel where the chief whip also got “captured”.
Motsoeneng told the Gupta-sponsored TNA Business Brief on SABC2’s Morning Live yesterday morning that he held the meeting in a “captured hotel” with Mthembu. Without elaborating and in an apparent attempt to shut him up, Motsoeneng implied Mthembu was involved in a clandestine meeting where he was captured but did not state who captured the politician.
Even when programme host Peter Ndoro pressed Motsoeneng to elaborate on his allegations about Mthembu, he declined, saying: “I will speak at the right time, but if he continues to speak too much I will …”
The breakfast news show is run by the Gupta-owned The New Age and has become a platform to promote Zuma supporters, such as Motsoeneng, Communications Minister Faith Muthambi, some of her cabinet colleagues, certain state-owned enterprises and those aligned with the so-called “Premier League” faction of the ANC.
Yesterday, Mthembu’s office responded to Motsoeneng’s utterances, saying the chief whip was disturbed by his “defamatory allegations” attributed to Motsoeneng, which suggested improper motives by Jackson and the ANC parliamentary caucus’s position on the SABC’s troubles.
“While Mr Motsoeneng’s spurious utterances are laughable and unworthy of a serious response, they are nonetheless malicious and, if left unchallenged, might stand as a fact amongst some members of the public. The chief whip states for the record that he has never at any point held any meeting with Mr Motsoeneng, certainly not at any location, including the so-called ‘captured hotel’, as claimed by him,” Jackson’s office said in statement.
The chief whip also harbours no other interest regarding the SABC, including personal interests, other than those that are shared by the ANC – which is to ensure a functional, efficient and well-managed public broadcaster.
“The chief whip has nothing to hide, and therefore Mr Motsoeneng is challenged to publicly state whatever he threatened to disclose or else publicly withdraw his utterances.”
Mthembu has consulted a lawyer to advise him if Motsoeneng’s public allegations were not in violation of his personal rights and if there was ground to sue him for defamation.