If you had thought the news coverage around the meeting between ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule and former President Jacob Zuma was strange, this one takes the cup, writes SIMPHIWE ZUNGU
Startling news on the Sunday Times journalist who wrote the story has come to surface. Qaanitah Hunter, who made waves through her front page tease alleging a secret meeting to oust President Cyril Ramaphosa, first rendered her services to the Gupta family.
Hunter, now an anti-Zuma crusader, was on the Guptas payroll and enjoyed a ‘cosy’ relationship with Atul Gupta. Former staff of the New Age newspaper says Hunter left the paper unceremoniously after the Gupta declined to give her the position of deputy editor.
According to The New Age’s editor for business affairs, Jeremy Smith, Hunter’s relationship with the Guptas was smooth. “The problem came when she demanded more money than all of us, and then the position of deputy editor. When the Guptas refused she threw her toys and quit. The next week she joined Tiso Black Star and was pioneering what was called the Gupta emails,” Smith said.
Her pilot project the ‘Gupta mails’ disappeared from the Sunday Times’ website shortly after Zuma resigned. The stories, which were to create the impression that there had been emails between Zuma, the Guptas and members of the executive engaging in corruption have since also disappeared.
According to Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo’s judicial commission of inquiry into state capture, no emails relating to Zuma and the Guptas have been admitted as evidence. So was Hunter lying in her “expose” about the Gupta emails? Kerry Andrews who was a sub-editor at The New Age said: “When Qaanitah left she was hurt and vowed to bring down the Guptas. From that day she became a project against the former president and the Gupta family”.
Hunter’s most recent project relates the Secretary-General and the former head of state to a secret meeting at the Maharani hotel at Durban’s south beach. When asked if there were secret meetings at their hotel, Maharani’s management said: “We host many people at our hotel be it in our restaurant or as hotel guests however we don’t have secret spaces, our hotel is open for everyone”.
Magashule who in an interview this week said he met Zuma in a scheduled ‘above board’ meeting has slammed Hunter saying “which secret meeting can be held at a public hotel with the most recognizable face in South Africa?”.
The ANC youth league in KZN have added their voice into the fray saying “Qaanitah must not divide our movement because one of the Guptas broke her heart. We’ve all been heartbroken at some point and we’ve moved on. This thing of Stratcom journalists is becoming a norm in South Africa, and we will stop it”.
This has again put the credibility of journalists under the microscope, one vocal anti-Gupta campaigner and eNCA “political analyst” Karima Brown was the political editor/deputy editor at the Gupta’s newspaper. What many do not know is that another Sunday Times journalist and the loudest anti-Zuma crusader Ranjeni Munsamy headed the 2008 campaign ‘friends of Jacob Zuma’.
Last month EFF leader Julias Malema claimed that Munsamy negotiated with him to cause Zuma’s removal so Pravin Gordhan can take over as head of state. In June a picture of Munsamy hand in hand with ANC NEC member Derek Hanekom went viral.
Last night a Facebook post in Hunter’s name from 2017 circulated social media. In the post, the writer, believed to be Hunter, says “We are ready to change the regime with our words. A woman scorned is dangerous seven times over”.
Zungu currently works at the Nanotechnology Research Area, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, South Africa. He does research in Polymer Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Nanotechnology.