The Speaker of the National Assembly has noted with dismay dissemination of false, malicious and defamatory gossip on the Twitter social media platform claiming that she has several business interestswhich were not divulgedto Parliament's Registrar of Members' Interests.
The source of these outrageous and spurious claims, which have been retweeted thousandsof times and repeated byother accounts, seems to be a parody twitter account called@AdvBarryRoux. According to this account, "Baleka Mbete owns 146 trucks, her trucks transport iron ore and coke (not cold drink some type of coal) from kuruman to durban, and she hired 136 Zimbabweans and only 10 south africans. She did not disclose this to parliament. #ZumaFiles".
Another account,@alfred_cabonena, rehashes similar claims: " Know your politician.
-Baleka Mbete(speaker of parliament) owns 146 trucks,her trucks transport iron ore and coke(not cold drink some type of coal)from kuruman to durban,surprisingly she hired 136 Zimbabweans and only 10 south africans."
The faceless @AdvBarryRoux account, in particular, has been spreading fabricated and malicious claims against prominent South Africans, seemingly without any shred of evidence.
The Speaker wishes to specifically place it on the record that all the allegations against her in these tweets are false and baseless. She has no interests, financial or otherwise, in any of the business entities stated, let alone logistics or trucking companies. All her assets have been declared, as required by the parliamentary ethics code, and are a matter of public information.
Whatever the intention of this account might be, those responsible for it ought to know they have no right under the law todisseminate false, libelous, slanderous, or defamatory gossip against others on social media.
The Speaker respects the right of all South Africans to freedom of speech, which includes freedom to receive or impart information or ideas. However, such rights come with responsibilities and may not defame others without evidence.
In this regard, the Speaker is seeking legal advice on the matter for an appropriate course of action.