SABC 'Mbeki ban' concerns Cosatu

2010-07-14 11:43

Johannesburg - Union federation Cosatu is "concerned" about reports the SABC has banned television and radio coverage of former president Thabo Mbeki.

"Cosatu campaigned strongly against the factional manipulation of the public broadcaster in the name of the government led by Thabo Mbeki," spokesperson Patrick Craven said on Wednesday.

"If it is true that the same practices are now being used against him, Cosatu will oppose them just as strongly.

"It is a grave threat to South Africa's constitutional democracy if the SABC can suppress coverage of individuals or organisations that governments disagree with."

The Sunday Times reported last week that SABC head of news Phil Molefe told a meeting of senior news executives that Mbeki's appearance on SABC television undermined ANC leader President Jacob Zuma.


ANC headquarters had apparently instructed Molefe not to broadcast any interviews with Mbeki or items about him.

"The public broadcaster must reflect the diverse views of all South Africans and never become the mouthpiece of a faction," Craven said, adding that the federation had noted the SABC's subsequent denial of the charge.

"Despite this denial, Cosatu is still worried, given the number of disturbing stories of similar examples of political pressure being exerted on SABC journalists.

"Cosatu calls on the SABC board to state categorically that it will abide by the country's Constitution and insist that its officials open up the airwaves to all citizens and organisations of South Africa."