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'She did think she was doing what was best but it was unbelievable arrogance'

14 October 2020 9:03 PM
Tags:
Jacob Zuma
Gupta
State Capture
Corruption
The Money Show
Sunday Times
Bruce Whitfield
Anton Harber
#GuptaLeaks
Sygnia
Magda Wierzycka
investigative journalism
Sars rogue unit
So For The Record

Prof. Anton Harber discusses his new book (So, for the Record) and the role of Magda Wierzycka in #GuptaLeaks.

"A remarkable dissection of the state of South African journalism in the context of a country that was being ripped to shreds from the inside"

That's Bruce Whitfield describing the latest book by Anton Harber, Caxton Professor of Journalism at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits University).

So, for the record. Image: Jonathan Ball Publishers

Harber spent two years researching the book which looks at the role the media played in aiding the programme of state capture.

It includes an examination of the Sunday Times' reporting on the so-called Sars rogue unit.

_So, for the Record: Behind the Headlines in an Era of State Capture _was launched this month.

RELATED: News coverage diminishing due to media cutbacks, laments Prof Anton Harber

Bruce Whitfield speaks to Harber about the leaking of the thousands of emails implicating the Gupta family in state capture.

It's a fascinating story because it was leaked to Daily Maverick, and Daily Maverick got together with the investigative unit amaBhungane saying 'we can't deal with this on our own - let's work together'.

Prof. Anton Harber, Author - So, for the Record: Behind the Headlines in an Era of State Capture

They put together a large team and put together a plan which involved going overseas where they could ensure their safety, moving the sources overseas... writing all the stories... two or three months' work... and then release them systematically from overseas so that they couldn't be stopped.

Prof. Anton Harber, Author - So, for the Record: Behind the Headlines in an Era of State Capture

They had good reason to fear for people's lives...

Prof. Anton Harber, Author - So, for the Record: Behind the Headlines in an Era of State Capture

In his book, Harber names the team's funder as Magda Wierzycka, an outspoken critic of state capture and the CEO of Sygnia Limited.

He relates how she decided they were moving too slowly and flew to London to disperse the emails, which she'd copied without informing anyone.

The Sunday Times then rushed into print with the first stories... They didn't have time to authenticate them...

Prof. Anton Harber, Author - So, for the Record: Behind the Headlines in an Era of State Capture

[In the book] I do a deep dive into the internal workings of the Sunday Times... They'd had to retract three major stories and apologise for three stories which really had fuelled state capture, ruined their reputation and done their journalism a great deal of harm.

Prof. Anton Harber, Author - So, for the Record: Behind the Headlines in an Era of State Capture

Wierzycka declined an invitation to speak on The Money Show:

She sent us a statement saying 'I did what I thought was best in the interests of all South Africans and for the protection of all involved'.

Bruce Whitfield, The Money Show host

"I think she did think she was doing what was best in her terms but it was unbelievable arrogance" responds Harber.

Fortunately it turned out well in the end, but it was despite her conduct.

Prof. Anton Harber, Author - So, for the Record: Behind the Headlines in an Era of State Capture

I call it billionaire's bombast. It's that illusion that so many CEOs of large companies and billionaires have, that they're not just good business people but they can solve the problems of the world and they know better than anyone else.

Prof. Anton Harber, Author - So, for the Record: Behind the Headlines in an Era of State Capture

Whether you agree that he [Harber] is right to be critical of Magda Wierzycka and her actions, you need to read the book in the full context to truly understand the magnitude of what was going on in the country.

Bruce Whitfield, The Money Show host

Listen to the fascinating interview with Harber in the audio below:


14 October 2020 9:03 PM
Tags:
Jacob Zuma
Gupta
State Capture
Corruption
The Money Show
Sunday Times
Bruce Whitfield
Anton Harber
#GuptaLeaks
Sygnia
Magda Wierzycka
investigative journalism
Sars rogue unit
So For The Record

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