• Short Summary

    South Africa's troubled Prime Minister Pieter Botha says his government never denied knowledge of its Information Department's secret projects, designed to improve the image of the country's apartheid policy.

  • Description

    GV ZOOM IN building where Citizen newspaper has editorial office

    SV people reading papers with Rhoodie headlines (Daily MaiX2l, Citizen, magazine Point) (THREE SHOTS)

    GV PAN Perskor building where "Citizen" printed

    GV PAN from Citizen delivery truck to news-stand at roadside

    CU Citizen newspaper poster with headline "Smit murder story debunked"

    CUs newspaper billboards with Rhoodie scandal headlines

    CU man reading newspaper with scandal headline "Indo: Probe into Cabinet" (TWO SHOTS)

    CU newspaper headline (Daily Mail, Cape Times, Sunday Express) (SEVEN SHOTS)

    CU Citizen billboard "BBC to play Rhoodie tapes"

    CUs man on the street interviews (sound) (TWO SHOTS)

    CU Finance Minister Open Horwood speaking

    SV Dr. Conie Mulder being interviewed

    CU Mulder speaking

    1st MEMBER OF PUBLIC: "Of course, it depends on what the tapes contain. My own view is that this has gone on far too long, it's getting a bit boring. Ah...quite frankly, I don't think there's anything in there that we don't know about already."

    REPORTER: "Do you think it's a good idea that it should be released?"

    MEMBER OF PUBLIC: "I think it's quite a good idea that it should be released, but I'd be surprised if there's any information that's, ah, going to be all that mind boggling."

    2nd MEMBER OF PUBLIC: "Well, I haven't really given it much thought, but I would like to see the Rhodesia tapes disclosed. But I wouldn't like South Africa to be harmed by it."

    REPORTER: "Do you think it's a good idea to release them overseas and not here?"

    MEMBER OF PUBLIC: "No, I would much rather them be released here."

    HORWOOD: " I say categorically that I reject Dr. Rhoodie's statement out of hand, it is completely untrue. I knew nothing about the "Citizen" project, as I've said repeatedly, and I had no part in approving any of the Department of Information's projects, and did not in fact approve of any. I can, in fact say I'm authorised to say be the, um, the then Prime Minister, that I was never ever a member of any kind of committee dealing with information matter."

    MULDER: "There is a global war on against South Africa, and if people are so native that they don't believe that, they're living in a fool's paradise. And if a global war is on, then methods must be used to counteract the actions against you. That's what I've been doing, and everything I've done, I've done in the Interests of my beloved country, South Africa and I have no regrets whatsoever."

    Initials KM/2200

    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: South Africa's troubled Prime Minister Pieter Botha says his government never denied knowledge of its Information Department's secret projects, designed to improve the image of the country's apartheid policy. Mr. Botha was replying to claims by the former Information Secretary, Dr. Eschel Rhoodie, that the Prime Minister personally initiated two of the secret projects. Dr. Rhoodie made his claims in a special BBC interview shown on Wednesday (21 March). Mr. Botha said what had been denied was that members of the present Cabinet knew of the backing of the "Citizen" newspaper with state funds. He said it has also been denied the Cabinet knew of any irregularities in secret project funds.

    SYNOPSIS: The funding of the right-wing "Citizen" newspaper is at the heart of the South African political scandal.

    The government's financial backing of the paper and alleged influence over its political content is just one of the secret projects unearthed in the scandal. Prime Minister Pleter Botha told parliament last December that a special committee evaluating the projects had identified 138 secret schemes, in which the bribing of journalists, overseas politicians and trade union leaders was commonplace. South Africa's major daily newspapers have played the major role in revealing new facts about the scandal. The government is now considering closer control over press freedom.

    The headlines and billboards, even in the Citizen, have preoccupied the country for months.

    Dr. Rhoodie's disclosures implicate both Prime Minister Botha and his predecessor John Vorster. Dr. Rhoodie alleged Mr. Botha personally initiated two secret projects, while Mr. Vorster had known of every major secret project.

    Mr. Botha has promised to resign if it can be proved that any of his Cabinet knew of the secret schemes before they were revealed in a government inquiry. One Minister now under pressure is Senator Owen Horwood, Minister for Finance. Dr. Rhoodie produced a photostat letter which alleges Senator Horwood knew about, and approved, funds for secret projects. The public were asked about Dr. Rhoodie's information.

    The government was defended by the former Minister of Information, Dr. Connie Mulder.

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