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Blade labels Zille a hypocrite over 'Cape Times' saga

Western Cape govt members told instructions not to renew their subscriptions of the newspapers.

FILE: The 'Cape Times' newspaper. Picture: Gadeeja Abbas/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Higher Education and Training Minister Blade

Nzimande on Tuesday weighed into the

controversy over the Western Cape government's decision to stop subscribing to

the Cape Times newspaper, calling Premier

Helen Zille a "hypocrite".

Government leaders in the province have received

instructions not to renew their subscriptions after the newspaper was criticised

for poor journalism, plagiarism and concealing crucial information by Zille who

posted a scathing newsletter on the Democratic Alliance (DA's) official blog at the weekend.

My latest newsletter links two unlikely issues: Foetal Alcohol Syndrome and bad journalism [SA Today]: http://t.co/7edJToDGWV #SAtoday

She voiced her displeasure with an article published by the

Cape Times on Foetal Alcohol Syndrome which she says resembles a piece written by

a researcher called Eric Graham, published on the World Socialist Web Site in

August 2012.

The article titled 'Foetal

alcohol syndrome's sad legacy: The story of baby Thomas' details the effects of the 'dop system' that was prevalent during

apartheid.

Zille said, "We said that when the subscription is over,

we're not renewing because the Cape Times is of such poor quality. It

does not add value and therefore we should see any expenditure on this subscription

as fruitless and wasteful."

LISTEN: Helen Zille on Cape Times boycott.

Nzimande bounced back saying Zille's "consumer choice"

defence is flawed.

"I must say I am dumbfounded because what she is saying, I can only call hypocrisy."

He said Zille's government has chosen this route because it suits them politically.

"There was a call from within our own ranks to actually boycott the Mail and Guardian, the DA was up in arms there was no question of consumer choice."

LISTEN: Blade Nzimande on Helen Zille's Cape Times comments

Zille however, has

defended the instruction by saying newspapers are no different to supermarkets and

consumers have a choice of where to shop.

"The bottom line is that if you go to the supermarket and

you get really shoddy service or very poor products, what makes newspapers so

special?"

At the same time, the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef)

has voiced its objection to this decision, saying all departments should be

free to decide what media to consume.

But, Zille has criticised the editors forum, saying, "Sanef

is quite amazing. They get upset about us choosing not to buy a bad product of

which everyone has the right to."

The Freedom of Expression Institute also added their voice by saying the government's decision not to renew its subscription appears

to be political, despite Zille's continued denials.

The institute's Anton Harber said, "I don't agree that it's

a good reason just to cancel the subscription when you're in government, I

think government should be really encouraging its people to be reading as wide

as possible."

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