The Office of the Deputy President released a statement to all media titled: Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has pursued his SADC mandate in Lesotho with integrity. This press statement is a response to Weekly Xposé story ‘Ramaphosa brought down the Lesotho government’.
In the press release, the office accuses Weekly Xposé of rehashing old rumours without substance: “The recycled allegation in the Weekly Xposé story titled ‘Ramaphosa brought down Lesotho government’ is without substance and can only be characterised as a poor attempt to impugn the integrity of the Deputy President.” Furhermore, the statement accuses Weekly Xposé of “peddling of fake news… which reproduces lies and innuendos about his [Ramaphosa’s] business dealings.
The Office of the Deputy President is being economical with the truth in its attempts to discredit Weekly Xposé as a so-called fake news site. The statement reads: “Had there been any ethical standard in the work of Weekly Xposé , they would have at least contacted the Office of the Deputy President to seek clarity or details before they pressed the ‘live’ button.”
We draw attention to the following section of the article in question. “Contacted for a comment, Ramaphosa’s spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa said: ‘Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has no shareholding in Bidvest. It is a matter of public record that the Deputy President resigned as a director of Bidvest in November 2013 and divested from his shareholding in the company in November 2014. The allegations by the students’ representative council are therefore completely unfounded.’” ‘Ramaphosa brought down the Lesotho government’.
Weekly Xposé contacted the Office of the Deputy President with a list of emailed questions, and to which the office officially responded, and which Weekly Xposé duly included in the story, as well as the comment from the spokesperson for Bidvest, against whom allegations were also levelled. Another exceprt from the story: “Weekly Xposé also sent a list of questions via email to a Bidvest spokesperson, who responded via email with a response from Mkhuseli Setuse, Bidvest Bank’s Executive: Fleet and Asset Finance: “Bidvest Bank can confirm that in July 2016 it was awarded the Government of Lesotho Fleet contract by Lesotho’s former Minister of Finance, Dr Mamphono Khaketla. The awarding of the contract was endorsed by the Cabinet. At all times, Bidvest Bank has complied with all legal requirements, including the submission of competitive pricing terms. Bidvest Bank rejects any accusation that it has acted improperly.”
If the Office of the Deputy President is bent on portraying Weekly Xposé as a fake news website, why would it entertain the website with answering our questions and including us on the media list to whom it sent the latest press release? In its own answers to Weekly Xposé the Office of the Deputy President speaks directly to the accusations of the students’ SRC council.
Former cabinet minister Monyane Moleleki spoke to Weekly Xposé on the record, where he said: “That corrupt process is the immediate cause of the collapse of our government.” An on-the-record conversation is just that.
It is unfortunate that in the Donald Trump era people are quick to pass around the tag of “fake news”, but we expected better from someone who has ambitions to occupy the highest office in our land.