DA welcomes court finding on SABC
Cape Town - The DA on Wednesday welcomed the South Gauteng High Court's finding that the SABC had, under the leadership of its former news head Snuki Zikalala, unlawfully manipulated news coverage.
"The SABC has for too long run renegade against its legislative mandate and constitutional obligation to provide news coverage that is unbiased, impartial, balanced and free from political interference," Democratic Alliance spokesperson Natasha Michael said in a statement.
The court, in a judgment handed down on Monday this week, set aside a 2009 decision by the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) to dismiss a complaint against the national broadcaster laid by the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI).
Michael said the DA noted the SABC's "chastisement" by the court for its politically motivated "widespread manipulation" of the news under the Zikalala's leadership.
"We welcome the court's order that (Icasa) determine the complaints laid against the SABC - for the blacklisting of political commentators that Mr Zikalala viewed as too critical of government - afresh."
She said that while most of the instances the court dealt with had occurred under the Mbeki administration, President Jacob Zuma had "demonstrated attempts to exact political control over the public broadcaster just like the Mbeki administration did.
"Indeed, over the past 18 months, numerous instances of blatant bias in the SABC's handling of its current and foreign affairs brief, and in its appointment of staff, have been documented."
Michael said this included, among others, SABC TV news' "suppression of the major national news story relating to Jacob Zuma's love child with Sonono Khoza".
Other examples were the ban, reportedly instituted by SABC head of news Phil Molefe, of all coverage featuring former president Thabo Mbeki, and the broadcaster's chairperson Ben Ngubane's "refusal to distance the SABC from Julius Malema's statement that the ANC owns the SABC", she said.