ANC stands by Jessie Duarte after spat with 'unprofessional' eNCA journalist
The ANC has fiercely defended deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte over a public altercation with a journalist.
In a recorded interview, Duarte criticised eNCA reporter Samkele Maseko for asking "attacking" questions and accused him of intimidation.
Duarte said Maseko "had a habit of intimidating everybody - a habit of making people feel you are the lord of the media".
A finger-wagging Duarte further accused Maseko of being a "bully".
"You call me a bully, but you are the worst bully I’ve ever come across ... And you want to defend freedom of speech you never fought for - and you don’t defend freedom of speech because your particular TV station has decided the direction it will go," she said.
"You’re just a journalist, like I am just a citizen. Nothing more, nothing less."
In a statement released on Tuesday, ANC spokesperson Dakota Legoate denied that Duarte's conduct was an assault on media freedom and editorial independence.
The ANC instead accused eNCA of broadcasting a "one-sided and biased story" of the altercation, adding that Duarte had requested a meeting with the editorial team of eNCA and the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef).
The source of the altercation, according to the ruling party, was an "unacceptable and unprofessional outburst" by Maseko.
"At the beginning of the briefing, the DSG [Duarte] explained that she would only read the media statement, but if there are any questions outside the statement, these should be referred to the ANC acting national spokesperson," said Legoate.
"After [Duarte] finished reading the media statement, eNCA reporter Mr Maseko engaged in an unacceptable and unprofessional outburst."