SABC saga: DA ropes in Madonsela

By Drum Digital
07 July 2016

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will today ask the Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela to investigate what they call “ political interference” by the African National Congress (ANC) at the SABC.

By Aphiwe Boyce

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will today ask the Public Protector, Advocate Thuli  Madonsela  to investigate what they  call “ political interference” by the African National Congress (ANC) at the SABC.

DA spokesperson Phumzile Van Damme said this follows former SABC acting CEO, Jimmy Matthews’ confirmation that there was deliberate intervention in the editorial decisions regarding coverage for opposition political parties.

“This, we believe, is at the behest of the ANC, to undermine their opponents – given the increasing pressure that they face at the polls. Through (SABC COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the ANC has effectively captured the SABC.”

Van Damme said the decision to summon the SABC board to Luthuli House, and not parliament, to account for the chaos at the public broadcaster, is evident just how much it has been captured by the ANC. “In terms of the Public Protector Act, the Public Protector is empowered to investigate abuse or unjustifiable exercise of power or unfair, capricious, discourteous, or other improper conduct or undue delay by a person performing a public function,” she said.

The DA spokesperson said South Africans must not be fooled by the ANC’s recent flip flop on media censorship. “They have continuously backed and supported Motsoeneng. They remained silent when the DA pursued our court action to have him removed… They allowed their youth league to declare ‘Hands off Hlaudi, Hands off’,” Van Damme said.

She said the truth is that the ANC is now playing to the gallery because they are under pressure during this election and face losing a number of metros. “Their summoning of the board is not only problematic and extra-parliamentary, but really just an ala-Nkandla-report attempt to look as though they are doing something, without bringing any real change,” she noted.

The DA hopes that the Public Protector will conduct this investigation on the basis of the information revealed by Mr Matthews. “We cannot allow for such a critical institution to remain captured by Jacob Zuma’s cronies, there only to serve their masters, and not the South African people.

However the ANC spokesperson Khusela Sangoni dismissed the DA allegations as lies. “There is no truth in what they are saying.  There is no interference from us; we never summoned the (SABC) board to Luthuli House. The only person we called to clarify the situation to us was our deployee, (Communications Minister) Faith Muthambi,” Sangoni said.

The SABC has been under a cloud of controversies in recent weeks, following recent protests from media houses against alleged censorship, after the broadcaster announced, among many things, that they would no longer air news footage of violent protests.

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