Sanef speaks out on Smith saga

THE South African National Editors' Forum said yesterday that it was gravely concerned about former TheCape Argus political reporter Ashley Smith's confession that he took bribes to write stories favourable to former Western Cape premier Ebrahim Rasool.

THE South African National Editors' Forum said yesterday that it was gravely concerned about former TheCape Argus political reporter Ashley Smith's confession that he took bribes to write stories favourable to former Western Cape premier Ebrahim Rasool.

Sanef media freedom chairperson Thabo Leshilo said yesterday, "Sanef deplores the gross dishonesty by all involved. Such scandalous conduct leaves an ugly blemish on the face of journalism and detracts from its guiding ethos of altruism. It brings journalism into disrepute.

"Journalists can take solace from the fact that Smith has since left journalism in disgrace.

"This sorry saga says as much about corrupt journalists as it does about politicians who would rather buy positive publicity than do what voters have mandated them to do and be judged by their good work."

Sanef commended The Cape Argus for the prominence it gave to this saga and for restating its commitment to journalism of the highest order and integrity.

Smith said this week that he and another staffers took payments to write articles promoting Rasool. He resigned as the hearing proceeded and left the newspaper immediately.

Smith said Rasool had used them as his "front line of attack" against rivals in the African National Congress, particularly provincial secretary Mcebisi Skwatsha.

Rasool, who became a member of the National Assembly after he was axed from the premiership by his own party in 2008, is South Africa's ambassador-designate to Washington.

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