Govt warned about misleading public

Govt has been warned that misleading the public with false facts criticises its own credibility.

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - Government has been warned that when it deliberately aims to mislead the public, it erodes its own credibility.

Late last year Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula created the impression that Former President Nelson Mandela was being treated at 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria.

"I think it is proper that we inform you the former president is in hospital. He is at 1 Military Hospital and is doing very well."

It later emerged he was at the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Arcadia.

Experts are now cautioning government that incidents like this are damaging.

The Thabo Mbeki Leadership Institute's Professor Shadrack Gutto said citizens may not trust government in the future.

"Whoever did this in government needs to understand that in future when it tells us things that are 100 percent true, people will take it with a pinch of salt."

Gutto said openness is important so that South Africans can continue to have confidence in government.

Communication strategist Clive Simpkins said lying sets a bad precedent.

"The problem when somebody has lied once is that the next time they say something, you put up a yellow card and the third time they say something, you put up a red card."

The spokesperson for Mapisa-Nqakula could not be reached for comment.