Duarte insults original 702 owners

  • 702
According to ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte, radio station 702 is “owned by people who have historically hated the ANC”. For this reason, she did not give them permission to use comments she had made after a media briefing on Tuesday afternoon at Luthuli House.
by JORDAN MOSHE | Jul 12, 2018

The lead-up to her comment and behaviour above had to do with weekend newspaper reports stating that Duarte claimed ANC national executive committee member Tony Yengeni should never have been jailed for fraud in 2003. This, despite his being found guilty of fraud 18 years ago in a case linked to the controversial arms deal. Yengeni is now heading a working group on crime and corruption at the ANC’s election manifesto workshop.

It was this statement which Eyewitness News (EWN) reporter Clement Manyathela sought to clarify with Duarte at the press briefing on Tuesday. Although Manyathela claims that Duarte was happy to clarify it, she apparently made an about-turn a few minutes later and instructed him not to use her response – because he is from 702.

“If you were working for Africa World View,” said Duarte, “I would have a different view because 702 is owned by people who have historically hated the ANC.” She then not only criticised the station further, but also 702 presenter Eusebius McKaiser and went on to say that the station’s presenters had concluded that she is corrupt. “702 is a noted hater of anyone who is progressive, so I have allowed you to record it but I have not allowed you to use it,” she said.

Was there something sinister in Duarte’s comments? 702 was historically owned by Jewish media personality Issie Kirsh, who served as the chairman of Radio 702 Group and as the chairman of Primedia, the mother company of both 702 and EWN. Kirsh set up the station in 1980 and stepped down from his position a few years ago.

EWN acting editor-in-chief Sheldon Morais said the basis for Duarte’s comments is something for which she alone can speak, and there is no use in speculating.

“Although the comments made by the deputy secretary-general did relate to our sister company 702, Manyathela was asking her for clarification on behalf of EWN. While we cannot know why she made those remarks, the fact is that she was asked for elucidation of previous comments attributed to her, and it is unfortunate that she chose to respond in this way. There was simply no basis for her statement.

“Clement approached her for clarification... Why she chose to say that we have taken a political stance is bizarre. Our ownership and management has always been open, never politically aligned nor partisan.”

Morais’ bafflement over why Duarte made this remark is shared by Kirsh. “ I don’t know why she would make such a statement,” he said. “She has no right to say such a thing and is naïve if she believes it. This was an absolutely stupid remark.

“702 is a platform for the opinions of others. It reports fairly on what people say and any views we share are not ours, but those of other people.

“702 doesn’t have political opinions of its own, and if she attributes any such opinions to the station, she’s foolish,” continued an angry Kirsh. “Where the heck has it ever made its own political statement?

“Although she alone knows to whom she is saying this, if she is addressing me, my family or any shareholder, she has a bloody cheek.”

702 station manager Thabisile Mbete said: “Primedia is a commercial media company, owned by multiple shareholders. The Kirshes exited the business when the business delisted years ago.

“The ownership of the company is strictly separated from editorial content on the platforms that the company owns, including 702. The shareholders’ political views have absolutely no bearing on the editorial of the station. 702 offers a platform for debate and discussion, and a diversity of views is encouraged.”

When asked for clarification on her remarks to Manyathela, Duarte refused to comment, saying: “I have nothing to say to contribute towards this dastardly campaign. Good night.”


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