SABC a slave to the ruling party – Dali Mpofu

2014-04-26 09:30

The SABC’s former CEO Dali Mpofu accused the public broadcaster of being a slave to the ruling party during a Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) hearing about an Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) advert.

“Other neutral broadcasters not slaves to the ruling party have aired the advert,” Dali Mpofu said last night, using the term “his master’s voice”.

Mpofu, an advocate and EFF member, was the SABC’s CEO between 2005 and 2009. He is also a former ANC member.

He is representing the EFF in its complaint to Icasa about the SABC not screening its election advert. It features a call to “destroy e-tolls physically”.

Terry Motau, for the SABC, objected to Mpofu using language like “his master’s voice”. Mpofu, who is the EFF’s Gauteng premier candidate, replied that he would tone it down.

Mpofu said the party’s application was based on the Constitution and legislation.

“The application prescripts start from the Constitution itself, Icasa Act, SABC Act, regulations, and so on.”

He said the SABC’s rejection of the advert happened in April. The call to “destroy e-tolls physically” had however been in the public domain since February 22, when the EFF’s election manifesto was made public.

“It is out there. To date, we are now almost two months after the first publication of the statement and no violence has [resulted] from the statement,” Mpofu told Icasa’s complaints committee.

The public broadcaster allocated free slots to political parties contesting the May 7 general elections on radio and television. The relief the EFF sought from Icasa was for its allocated slots to be reinstated and the advert to be televised as is.

Mpofu stated that the SABC’s rejection of the advert was an attempt to muzzle the EFF.

“When you do that, you are violating the rights of the public [who] make up their minds independently who they are going to vote for. The fear expressed by the SABC amounts to censorship, it’s a citizen’s right to choose or reject.”

Motau said Mpofu neither challenged the regulations the SABC applied in rejecting the advert, nor did he make a case that they were incorrectly applied.

“All that the SABC did was to correctly interpret regulations.”

He further argued that the EFF had exceeded the 48-hour limit within which to bring its complaint to Icasa. The SABC advised the party on April 16 that its advert had been rejected. The EFF lodged a complaint on April 22.

Motau asked the committee to dismiss the EFF’s complaint for being late, and on the merits of his case.

He said the language used to discuss e-tolls in the EFF’s manifesto was not the same as that used in the advert.

EFF leader Julius Malema said on Tuesday that the SABC should allow people to judge for themselves which party to vote for, instead of banning advertisements.

The advert, mostly in black and white, is entitled Now is the Time for Economic Freedom. It was posted on YouTube a week ago and had been viewed over 148 500 times by last night.

It starts with a woman, identified as Mrs Zameka Nungu, talking in Xhosa about how she was left heartbroken when her husband was killed during the Marikana shooting in August 2012.

This is followed by a slideshow of photos of police officers pointing their guns at mineworkers in Marikana, and at Bekkersdal residents.

Malema then introduces himself and urges people to vote for the EFF.

“I know your pain and suffering. Let us vote against empty promises of the last 20 years, vote for economic freedom in our lifetime. Let us restore the dignity of the African child. Vote EFF,” he says.

The advert ends with images of posters with Malema’s face on them and slogans such as “let’s stop Nkandla corruption” and “destroy e-tolls physically!”.

Malema said the EFF would not amend its advert and would not be told by the SABC what it could and could not say.

The hearing continues.

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