Georgina Guedes

Further down the SABC rabbit hole…

2016-06-06 08:59

Georgina Guedes

The SABC really seems to be holding to the ideal that “no publicity is bad publicity” at the moment.

While the announcement a few weeks back that their radio stations would play 90% local content could be spun as having solid strategic reasoning behind it, the announcement that they would not be broadcasting footage of violent protests was less sympathetically received.

However, the latest salvo in their campaign to be viewed as a serious broadcasting company teeters on the cliff of bizarre – and then plummets right off of it.

Is the DA a registered party?

In a sworn explanatory affidavit to ICASA, in response to the DA’s complaint lodged with the independent communications authority, the SABC claimed that it had refused to air the DA’s election campaign ads because it needed time to confirm whether the DA is a registered political party and had submitted a list of candidates to the IEC.

This is so outrageous that it beggars belief. The DA is the official opposition in South Africa. It has seats in parliament. Even if the widespread knowledge that the DA is an official party were not sufficient for the SABC, I am sure that the organisation could have faxed through some papers proving this to be the case at a moment’s notice.

The conversation could have gone something like this:

SABC: Hi, DA, we need to cross some t’s and dot some i’s over here. Please could you email or courier us your proof of party registration and list of candidates for the next election.

The DA: Sure. Your forms are in the mail.

'Hang on while we investigate…'

Instead, the SABC told the DA that there was a delay because parties were being allocated slots and this process needed to be completed. They also told the DA that they needed until 4 June to “investigate” the matter. 

But when they were required to respond to the complaint to ICASA, they came up with the registration bluff.

"The regulations are clear – and the DA complied with these – as we have done in the past. The request for an investigation was merely a thinly veiled attempt to delay the adverts by a week, and therefore limit their effect on the election campaign," the DA said in a statement.

They just look silly

This process is a threadbare quilt of strung together legal loopholes and arguments with holes in them. The SABC has resorted to nonsense to try to silence the ANC’s opposition, in the same way as they are trying to silence protestors.

Unfortunately, like the ruling closing ranks around Zuma, and cancelling the commission of enquiry into our president’s relationship with the Guptas, the acts taken by the ANC and its mouthpieces to make the party look good do nothing of the sort. Instead, the ANC paints itself to be increasingly autocratic, corrupt – and a little bit silly to boot.

- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

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