Press Club criticises Mthembu's 'opportunistic' remarks
The National Press Club (NPC) on Tuesday criticised ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu for his "opportunistic" remarks about politicians being members of the club.
"Mthembu must ensure that he has correct information at hand before making factually incorrect and unfounded statements," chairman Yusuf Abramjee said in a statement.
He was responding the African National Congress commenting that the Cape Town Press Club could not be regarded as a neutral ground for parties that had no right to be there.
Mthembu said in a statement: "This has been vindicated by the partisan attitude demonstrated by chairperson of the National Press Club Mr Yusuf Abramjee and the chairman of the Cape Town Press Club Mr Donwald Pressly towards Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson's protestation against this anomaly.
If these bodies continue to operate in this manner they run the risk of alienating themselves."
The "anomaly" Mthembu was referring to was the presence of a Democratic Alliance MP at a press club breakfast on Friday, where the minister had been scheduled to speak.
Abramjee said: "We wish to place on record yet again that the NPC does not accept politicians as members.
"We issued a statement yesterday stressing that the NPC's membership is only for members of the media and communication practitioners. They are full time and associate members respectively."
Abramjee said although the Cape Town Press Club was not affiliated to the NPC, he called on it at the weekend to review its membership procedures after it emerged it accepted politicians.
"We are glad that they have since said they will review their membership criteria," Abramjee said.
The NPC said the ANC was "quick to jump to conclusions about our membership without checking its facts, even after [the NPC] stated publicly that politicians do not, and never will, qualify for membership".
Abramjee said the ANC should take up its fight with the Cape Town Press Club directly.
Mthembu was responding to the spat that erupted when Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister Joemat-Pettersson protested about speaking at a press club breakfast on Friday, in the presence of DA MP Pieter van Dalen. Van Dalen is a member of the club.
She apparently believed he wanted to use the opportunity to continue a disagreement they had during her budget vote speech on Thursday.
According to her adviser Rams Mabote, the minister had been under the impression she was addressing journalists, not politicians. She told the club that if one political party was there, other parties should also be present.
Van Dalen agreed to leave so the audience would not be denied the opportunity of hearing her speak.
The Cape Town Press Club has more than 500 members, of which 133 are business people and 125 journalists. Club secretary Gloria Barrett said there were 86 members in public relations, 77 uncategorised members, and 52 pensioners.
A small number of writers were registered. About 18 people were registered as politicians. Barrett said politics was a broad category and included city managers and political advisers.