Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Watershed Day for the Independence and Credibility of SABC

Since 02 July 2016, the Campaign to Save Our SABC, which constitutes individuals, organisations and movements campaigning for social and economic justice for all has campaigned for and built up a broad front of activists committed to the independence and credibility of our national public broadcaster. 

From the very outset, we have been clear about our demands which include:

  1. The immediate and unconditional lifting of the suspension and dismissal of SABC journalists facing disciplinary action for being brave citizens and refusing to undermine the credibility and integrity of our SABC.
  2. That the SABC’s illegally revised editorial policies be scrapped.
  3. The immediate reversal of all downward editorial decisions premised on the unlawfully revised editorial policy.
  4. That Motsoeneng is sacked from the SABC, in keeping with the Public Protector’s recommendations and the Western Cape High Court’s judgment which found his appointment to be “irrational” and, therefore, unlawful in the first place.
  5. That the lame-duck and inquorate SABC Board that has enabled Motsoeneng’s reign of terror and patronage to be reconstituted on an urgent basis.
  6. That Faith Muthambi is sacked for her delinquency and collusion with Motsoeneng and the SABC Board in unlawfully revising the editorial policies and enabling the continued decay of the SABC.

Today, in a gold-star watershed for the integrity of the single largest mass communication medium in the country, the SABC, and the integrity of our constitutional democracy with it, the Helen Suzman Foundation successfully interdicted the SABC from proceeding with enforcing editorial directives including those which gave rise to the banning of visuals of the destruction of property where it occurs  in local government protests, as well as the banning of coverage that is critical of the ANC and the President of the Republic of South Africa. These directives were unlawful when they were issued in as much as they have come to be found by a court of law now.

Buttressing this great victory, the SABC is reported to have accordingly submitted a letter to ICASA, confirming that it will abide by the ruling and recommendations of the regulator's Complaints and Compliance Committee, and was adopted by Council on Monday 11 July 2016, confirming, once again as was done in the so-called "Nkandla" Constitutional Court judgment that the findings and recommendations of a Chapter 9 institution, such as ICASA is, are binding. It is regrettable that the SABC’s COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, and Board Chairperson, Obert Maguvhe, took this long to come to this rational and principled conclusion after much huffing and puffing and blowing of hot steam.

These two victories, however, only address the third of our six simple demands towards the turn-around of our SABC which has been in the double crisis of credibility and corporate stability for no less than the last decade. 

Principally, we are mindful of the fact that the SABC 8 have been summarily dismissed by Motsoeneng, with the support of his delinquent Board, a power-hungry Minister of Communications and an equally delinquent Portfolio Committee on Communications in Parliament, have not yet been reinstated with immediate effect. Indeed, we are concerned about the continued climate of fear and terror, and culture of self-censorship that has gripped rank-and-file SABC workers by their throats. A climate and culture that was established by, and continues to be enforced by Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

We are emboldened by today’s powerful developments, and are unyielding in our commitment to see that our demands which are essential to turning the SABC around are met.

Issued by:

Sekoetlane Phamodi
National Coordinator, Save Our SABC Coalition (SOS Coalition)
+27 76 084 8077

William Bird
Executive Director, Media Monitoring Africa (MMA)
+27 (82) 887 1370

Alex Mashilo
Spokesperson, South African Communist Party (SACP)
+27 (82) 9200308

Micah Reddy
National Media Freedom and Diversity Organiser, Right2Know Campaign
+27 83 297 3444

Hannes du Buisson
Broadcasting, Electronic Media and Allied Workers Union
+27 82 920 8669

Tuwani Gumani
General Secretary, MWASA
+27 82 743 3867

[Blog editor note: The SABC has now responded that there will be no need to go to court over above mentioned matter of airing violence. And it is interesting that the SABC is under the impression that the SAPC supported their motion to ban visuals of violence.]