Georgina Guedes

SABC attempts to silence protestors

2016-05-27 09:07

Georgina Guedes

The SABC has issued a statement that they will no longer be broadcasting footage of protestors torching government buildings, committing acts of vandalism or protesting violently. The stated reason is that they are concerned that it will inspire protestors in other areas to take the same action.

I can follow the thread of their logic a little. It’s kind of like how the United States doesn’t negotiate with terrorists, or the Dutch rail service don’t announce the reason for train delays when the reason is a suicide. They don’t want to inspire further actions of that nature.

Isn’t that propaganda?

But, here’s the problem. The SABC is the state broadcaster. Usually, when people are burning state buildings, it’s because the state has failed them in some way.

So, although the act of setting the fire itself may be an illegal and violent action, the reason behind it is desperation and despair, as a result of the actions (or inaction) of the government.

That being the case, failing to broadcast these kinds of protests is a brutal silencing tactic and an act of propaganda. “Meanwhile, in Pretoria, the birds are tweeting, etc. See how happy we all are in South Africa. It’s nice here.”

A better way to make the protests stop

I have a better way of discouraging further protests. It’s a groundbreaking strategy. I call it FIX THE BROKEN STUFF. If people, like the protestors in Hammanskraal, are unhappy (to put it mildly) because they are being evicted from shacks on land that they paid for, then help them.

Don’t just send in the Red Ants to bash down their homes (and get killed in the process). How did they think that was going to end well?

Work out where the money went, find out who was responsible, offer the protestors alternatives. While you’re at it create some jobs and improve the education that their children are receiving.

Further evidence of government disregard

If, as a government, the only response you can come up with is to turn away the cameras of the state broadcaster, in fact, it only lends strength to the protestors’ argument that their leaders don’t care about them, that they don’t want to know about their pain and that they sure as hell aren’t ever going to do anything to fix the situation.

I am not a supporter of burning books, libraries, auditoriums, houses or anything really except a bag of wood from the Pick n Pay and some pinecones from the park. But I can understand the desperation of people who feel that their needs are not being met and that their pleas for help are not being heard. The solution is not silencing them – silencing them is what got us into this mess.

The state needs to take action. Not resort to further inaction.

- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

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