FNB: Removal of clips doesn’t censor young voices

2013-01-23 13:39

The removal of clips from its blog following criticism from the ANC and its alliance partners does not amount to censoring the voices of young people, FNB has said.

“The cumulative views (of young people) and the message continue in the FNB TV advert and the other elements of the campaign, including billboards and the youcanhelp.co.za blog,” said FNB chief marketing officer Bernice Samuels.

Samuels’ comments come after FNB had removed four unscripted clips from its blog “for the time being”.

“We faced allegations of treason, by implication the children were placed at the centre of these allegations and this is why we decided to take our current course of action,” said Samuels.

She said the bank kept in touch with the children and they were doing fine.

Business Report earlier published quotes from some of the clips that have since been removed.

“The country is being overrun by poverty … while (President) Jacob Zuma is renovating his home,” said a youngster from KwaZulu-Natal.

A university student from Gauteng said: “The government is only thinking for themselves … I’m from a rural area and the government doesn’t see what’s happening.”

Said a high school pupil from KwaZulu-Natal: “Politicians tend to be the most destructive ... aspect of our country … We need motives and a clear vision … We must not depend on our leaders. Each person must become their own hero.”

A Western Cape student said: “I was born in an epic era … We need to stop relying on government and rely on ourselves.”

Samuels said the bank had not received any other complaint about the campaign, aside from the ANC, its leagues and alliance partners.

FNB has been slammed for the campaign, which the ruling party saw as an attack on itself and the government.

The ANC accused FNB of hiding behind the faces of innocent children, while the ANC Youth League said its campaign was treacherous.

The youth league said it was a veiled attack on the country.

Samuels said the bank would welcome the opportunity to meet with the ANC on this matter.

A complaint has reportedly been lodged with the Advertising Standards Authority – but not by the ANC.

Meanwhile, the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) has called on the ANC to be more tolerant, open to criticism and to uphold the spirit of the Constitution – which is to promote debate, discussion and the free expression of opinion.

FXI executive director Phenyo Butale said FNB was only giving a voice to young South Africans whose opinions were not heard enough.

“When the ANC was in opposition, it called on business to speak out on issues of national importance. Even in government, the ANC has recently called on business leadership to be more engaged with government and policy issues. In its criticism of the FNB’s advert, the ANC and its alliance partners are now showing intolerance of views that might be uncomfortable and critical,” Butale said.

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