The Citizen Got the Zuma Warship Story Wrong

Jan 20, 12 The Citizen Got the Zuma Warship Story Wrong

Posted by in Featured, News & Media, Politics

Driving around Johannesburg on Wednesday, it was difficult to miss the blaring headline shouting out in big, bold sans serif from The Citizen’s signboards: ZUMA WANTS A WARSHIP Intriguing, no? On reading the article, you would have been greeted by a lede that ups the ante even further: Jacob Zuma wants an aircraft carrier, and it will be partly up to convicted fraudster Tony Yengeni to decide who will get the contract to supply a warship potentially costing even more than the four frigates bought as part of the controversial 1999 R60 billion arms deal. Seems pretty outrageous, doesn’t it? That our taxes are being spent in an apparently corrupt deal to buy something as insanely expensive as an aircraft carrier? However, on closer examination, none of these claims turn out to be true: it wasn’t Zuma’s idea, it isn’t an aircraft carrier, and Tony Yengeni is not involved in deciding who gets to sell us the ships. So most of the story is inaccurate and The Citizen’s slant is blatantly wrong. This is a truly awful article that misleads the public about an important military acquisition. First, despite The Citizen’s implication that this is a new revelation, the existence of Project Millennium, the subject of this story, has never been secret. On the contrary, the SANDF has been speaking to journalists about Millennium since 2008, outlining the requirement for a Strategic Support Ship (SSS) and the reasoning behind it. Not that attending SANDF briefings appears to be a priority for The Citizen, which would rather report by proxy. It’s not as if these have been obscure briefings either. All the major potential bidders were well represented at Africa Aerospace & Defence 2010 in Cape Town and covered extensively in the show’s official news handouts. Any journalist attending would’ve had to be blind to miss it. Nor is the claim that President Zuma ‘wants’ this ship true. This project was initiated by the SANDF under President Mbeki and Defence Minister Lekota and it was...

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