Call for ANC meeting over booing of Zuma

2013-12-12 00:00

THE Gauteng ANC has asked for a meeting with the party’s national leadership over the booing of President Jacob Zuma by mourners at Nelson Mandela’s memorial yesterday.

Sister paper City Press reports on its website that the leadership of the party in Gauteng met on Monday night and decided that provincial leaders should meet at Luthuli House because the blame for the rowdy behaviour of some mourners at the service is now being put on Gauteng.

Meanwhile, while TV news broadcasters across the world led their bulletins with the booing, SABC’s prime-time newscasts all but erased the incidents from history.

City Press has learnt from six independent sources at the public broadcaster’s news division that various instructions were given to ban broadcasts of the booing.

The SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago denied the allegations, saying yesterday: “It is the prerogative of the SABC to decide to use its discretion in line with its editorial codes and what it deems as a top story for the day. The memorial of Madiba and how his life was celebrated … remains important to the world and not the incident you are referring to.”

The sources — from field reporters to producers to technical crew — do not wish to be named as they do not want to jeopardise their jobs, but have filled City Press in on how news bosses handled the booing situation.

SABC broadcast the memorial live, beaming images of Zuma arriving at the FNB Stadium both on TV and on big screens inside, when elements in the crowd began to jeer and boo.

The incidents repeated when Zuma was shown in pans of the VIPs on the big screen until the live feed was cut on the screens, which showed an image of Mandela for about half an hour. These screens are presumably not, however, controlled by the SABC but by the organisers.

The live feed on the screens recommenced during U.S. President Barack Obama’s speech.

In the SABC news studio, the crisis was managed, according to insiders, by Nyana Molete, the national TV news editor.

Sources say he strode into the control room in Auckland Park calling: “Cut away! Cut away! Cut away!”

This, they say, was in line with the decision in a meeting before the broadcast to avoid broadcasting any incident that might embarrass the ANC leadership.

City Press believes presenters in the field complained about the control room instructions, which put them on the spot. Commentary was steered away from the booing.

Two separate sources confirmed that SABC radio reporters in the field received instructions over their cellphones when the booing happened. They were observed not commenting on or covering the crowd’s displeasure.

Another source told City Press that staff preparing the evening’s news bulletins received instructions, said to come from head of news Jimi Matthews, that the booing incidents would not be included and that booing should not be referred to, rather “unruly behaviour” by elements in the crowd.

This is not the first booing incident the SABC has had to deal with. In 2005, e.tv aired footage proving that an SABC cameraman had been present and filming when then deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka was booed on Women’s Day by Zuma supporters.

The SABC had denied this and went on to issue an apology, which blamed the freelance cameraman for failing to record the booing and accused e.tv of being “bitter”.

This October, a similar incident occurred at the Marikana Commission, when a bereaved widow shouted at national police commissioner Riah Piyega. eNCA broadcast the confrontation but the SABC did not, according to reports.

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