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eNCA anchors 'off air but not suspended' after criticising Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

07 May 2020 - 10:54 By Matthew Savides and Iavan Pijoos
eNCA anchors Xoli Mngambi and Jane Dutton apologised for their remarks regarding Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, pictured, and President Cyril Ramaphosa.
eNCA anchors Xoli Mngambi and Jane Dutton apologised for their remarks regarding Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, pictured, and President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Image: Alon Skuy

eNCA news anchors Xoli Mngambi and Jane Dutton have not been seen on air since apologising for an editorial earlier in the week criticising co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for “undermining” President Cyril Ramaphosa.

There has been mounting speculation that the pair have been suspended, with 702 talk show host Eusebius McKaiser tweeting that staff were told about the suspensions on Wednesday.

eNCA MD Norman Ndivhuho Munzhelele told TimesLIVE in a brief statement on Thursday: “eNCA anchors Jane Dutton and Xoli Mngambi have not been suspended.

"This is an internal matter and remains between the employer and employees. The employer wishes to respect the rights of the employees in this regard."

Other news anchors hosted the morning show on Thursday.

The pair incurred the wrath of many on Twitter for saying on Monday that Dlamini-Zuma had overridden Ramaphosa regarding the controversial ban on cigarette sales.

Ramaphosa had earlier said cigarette sales would be allowed under level 4 restrictions. However, at a subsequent briefing Dlamini-Zuma said this decision had been overturned.

Dutton said in an introduction to the show on Monday that Dlamini-Zuma was “controlling the narrative”.

“She used her power and considerable influence to ensure the ban on cigarette sales would continue,” she said.

Mngambi added: “Well, just one move and it was done. Why did she do that? Is it because the president is particularly popular right now, or is it a reminder that the party politics at Luthuli House, the rivalry there, is still very much at play?”

Dutton then said Dlamini-Zuma “publicly emasculated” Ramaphosa - and that the public had been “duped” in the decision to go against the president's statement.

Mngambi then said there were fears SA had “become a police state under rogue ministers”.

The pair were roundly criticised for the comments, and on Tuesday issued as apology.

Dutton said during the show that they made an “unfortunate judgment” call on President Cyril Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma around the debacle on the cigarette ban.

“ … singling her out on the decision as if it were her own. This was unfair and unwarranted, especially after President Ramaphosa had provided clarity on the matter,” Dutton said.

Mngambi said the practice at the 24-hour news channel allowed anchors to make commentary on any matter of national importance and this was done purely to encourage debate.

“It is not done out of malice or to personalise attacks on a particular leader.”

“Again, we apologise unreservedly to you, Mr President, you minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and indeed the nation.”