The ANC will abandon its dismissive approach to conspiracies about Covid-19 and plans to create platforms to educate its members about the coronavirus.
This comes after one of its councillors, Sfiso Mngadi in eThekwini, made outrageous claims, saying there is no Covid-19, that 5G cellphone towers are making people ill and that white people have already been vaccinated against the illness.
eThekwini regional leader Bheki Ntuli said dismissing circulating myths as “stupid” and assuming no-one will believe them was not working, leading to false information becoming believable.
“We are realising information about the virus and the pandemic is not at a sufficient level among our people. We cannot spend a lot of time discussing myths so we should instead dedicate time to educate people,” he said.
The platforms, according to Ntuli, will likely be created to educate ANC branch leaders, ward councillors and regional leaders who share the correct information with their communities.
“We will also try to get experts to come onto those platforms to explain about the virus, the pandemic and the vaccines,” he said.
Ntuli said the anti-5G narrative perpetuated by Mngadi was against the ethos of the governing party.
“We embrace technological advancements. We understand the importance of 5G and there is absolutely no connection between 5G towers and the novel coronavirus.
“Even during this pandemic, we are relying on technology to continue with work. South Africa needs to advance technologically, like other countries. We cannot stand by while our people are being misinformed,” said Ntuli.
He encouraged ANC members to ask questions when they come across information that seeks to make a connection between “5G and the virus, [or] 666 and the vaccine” rather than repeat it.
In Mngadi’s audio clip, he urged fellow councillors to call a special council meeting and take a decision that all 5G towers must be disconnected in eThekwini.
“No council can be convened to discuss the destruction of 5G towers. We can’t joke about that. The ANC has experts, educated people within its ranks, so we will ask them to capacitate comrades,” he said.
Ntuli said it was unfortunate that a person deployed to lead a community was calling for the destruction of 5G towers.
“Leaders must be able to research, but more than anything, comrades must read. We have Google at the tips of our fingers. There is no justification for not speaking from an informed point of view.”
During the pandemic, SA is under a national state of disaster and regulations during this time prohibit spreading fake news about the coronavirus.
Former ANC minister and national executive committee member Derek Hanekom called for the councillor to be removed, and DA eThekwini caucus leader Nicole Graham lodged a formal complaint with the council speaker over Mngadi’s comments.
If all of this is true, he should be removed as Councillor. https://t.co/JMsBhayeFl
— Derek Hanekom (@Derek_Hanekom) January 4, 2021
The ANC provincial leadership on Monday indicated it would get involved.
“The provincial secretary is dealing with this matter. Mngadi has been summoned to the provincial office to explain himself,” said provincial spokesperson Nhlakanipho Ntombela.
In the audio clip circulating on social media, the ward 24 councillor says: “As leaders of eThekwini we need to take action against this disease. It is not Covid. We are getting this thing from 5G towers, [some] installed during this period in preparation of the second wave.
“White people were vaccinated about five months ago. There was a truck that distributed the vaccine in boxes and white people from all over the province, including places like Ixopo and Vryheid, went to receive these boxes. It was given to white people only.”
When contacted by TimesLIVE on Monday, Mngadi stood by his theory.
His comments came hours after premier Sihle Zikalala spoke strongly against “5G conspiracies” and urged residents to educate themselves about the virus.