‘Censorship must end’

2014-04-14 00:00

THE apparent decision of SABC bosses to restrict coverage of opposition parties’ election campaigns drew wide reaction from parties and civil society yesterday.

Marian Shinn, the DA’s shadow communications minister, said she had requested the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) to investigate whether the SABC has violated its licence conditions and if it has, to take restorative and punitive action.

Shinn will also request Communications Minister Yunus Carrim to ensure that the SABC fulfills its role without any political interference or favour.

The DA, Cope and the UDM, at a televised debate last night between the ANC, Economic Freedom Fighters and the Freedom Front Plus on land issues, insisted that a memorandum of demands be read out.

DA leader Helen Zille said in a speech at Mthatha in the Eastern Cape that SABC’s actions show just how scared the ANC is of the DA.

The Right2Know (R2K) campaign and Support Public Broadcasting Coalition (SOS) also expressed their shock in a letter to the chair of the SABC board.

The reaction follows a report in sister paper City Press yesterday revealing:

• a controversial directive earlier this year that new parties, like the EFF, would not have their manifesto launches broadcast live;

• news personnel were instructed not to broadcast footage of the crowds at opposition events;

• operational head Hlaudi Motsoeneng decided last week that the SABC should no longer cover violent service delivery protests; and

• board chairperson Ellen Tshabalala warned staff that their phones were being monitored because the SABC is a national key point.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago dismissed the allegations as untrue and coming from “faceless sources”.

He said decisions were taken at a SABC workshop on how the elections would be covered, and these were in line with SABC policy and Icasa regulations.

Cope spokesperson Johann Abrie said yesterday that his party, the DA and the UDM had decided to disrupt last night’s debate at the Turfloop campus of the University of Limpopo because they were not also invited as members of the provincial legislature.

The memorandum also called for SABC to end censorship and afford unbiased coverage of all parties, and for the resignation of Motsoeneng.

Zille said the DA will not remain silent and watch the ANC steal the election.

A DA advert that referred to spending at President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla estate was last week pulled by the SABC on the grounds that it might incite violence.

“We won’t give up without a fight. The democratic rights of every South African are at stake,” she said.

R2K and SOS said the national key points legislation Tshabalala relied on to warn that phones were bugged is oppressive and must be scrapped.

V Helen Zille DA leader

“We won’t give up without a fight. The democratic rights of every South African are at stake.”

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