The Business Maverick has published several damaging articles about the Fund since January 2020, making various allegations against it.
Due to the sensitive nature of these articles, and the reputational risk they posed to the Fund, the Board and executive management decided that swift action needed to be taken.
The Fund approached the Press Council and submitted a formal complaint against the Business Maverick in March 2020. In a finding published on 23 July 2020, the Press Council ruled in the EPPF’s favour, citing that the Business Maverick had consistently neglected to give the EPPF an opportunity to respond to specific serious allegations.
The Business Maverick was found in breach of the following sections of the Press Code:
1.1: “The media shall take care to report news … fairly”;
1.2: “The media shall present news in context and in a balanced manner, without any intentional or negligent departure from the facts whether by distortion, exaggeration or misrepresentation, material omissions, or summarization”;
1.8: “The media shall seek, if practicable, the views of the subject of critical reportage in advance of publication…” and “… a subject [ of critical reportage] should be afforded reasonable time to respond; if unable to obtain comment, this shall be stated.”; and
1.9: “The media shall state where a report is based on limited information, and supplement it once new information becomes available”
The Press Council raised concern with the Business Maverick’s “consistent neglect either to obtain comment from a subject of critical reportage” or “to ask relevant questions about specific allegations”. These were failures in basic journalism which, in the Press Council’s view, had “the potential of leading not only to inaccurate and unfair reporting, but also to cases of defamation – and it has the potential of causing huge, unnecessary harm.”
The Press Council instructed the Business Maverick to apologise to the EPPF as well as to all individuals who were affected by the reporting for “repeatedly and unfairly neglecting to give them a right of reply to serious allegations levelled against them”.
In its apology, the publication stated, “Business Maverick unreservedly apologises to the EPPF and to all those individuals who were affected by the reportage for repeatedly and unfairly neglecting to give them a right of reply to serious allegations levelled against them. We also recognise the significant distress our reporting caused the EPPF’s pensioners.”
Click here to read the full apology from the Business Maverick published on 8 September 2020.
The Business Maverick was also directed to publish the Fund’s right of reply, limited to 600 words, which you can read here.
This has been a very long journey and the Fund appreciates its vindication through the findings of the Press Council. We hope that this outcome brings relief to our members and pensioners following this distressing episode.
I assure you of our continued commitment to place our members and pensioners at the centre of everything we do.
Chief Executive and Principal Officer
Eskom Pension and Provident Fund