News24

M&G: Zapiro show a huge hit

2009-05-27 17:30

Johannesburg - An SABC programme on political satire has been downloaded 3 500 times since it was posted on the Mail & Guardian's website at 14:30 on Wednesday.

"It's almost brought the site down due to the number of hits we're getting. It's still loading, just very slowly," said M&G Online technical manager Jason Norwood-Young.

On Tuesday night the SABC backed off airing the Special Assignment episode, the second time it had done so.

"We were expecting a fair amount of interest, but probably spread out more. I thought it would be big tomorrow [Thursday] but it's obviously picked up quickly."

Not the final version

The documentary appears on the website without narration or voiceover, suggesting that what had been posted may not be the final version of the show.

It has interviews with Zapiro, the pen-name of cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro, and ANC spokesperson Jesse Duarte.

The programme was suspended for a second time on Tuesday evening. In a short statement released an hour before the show was scheduled to be broadcast, SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said: "Tonight's episode of Special Assignment will not be aired owing to the fact that due process with regards to consultation has not been concluded.

"Because of the problems encountered previously with this particular episode, the acting group CEO Mr Gab Mampone in his capacity as editor-in-chief will need to make the final sign-off."

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Congress of the People KwaZulu-Natal weighed in on the controversy with a condemnation of the programme's suspension.

"Why has it become a political blasphemy to criticise or cartoon (President) Jacob Zuma, (SA Communist Party general secretary) Blade Nzimande, the Congress of SA Trade Unions and the SACP?" asked spokesperson Siyanda Mhlongo.

"That is why we have many people switching to commercial [television] because the SABC is now an ideological instrument of the ruling party. It is controlled and manipulated by the ANC."