Great South Africans canned

2004-10-14 17:59

Johannesburg - The SABC has cancelled its Great South Africans TV programme two weeks after the series started, the national broadcaster announced on Thursday.

"We are going back to the drawing board on this one," said chief executive officer Peter Matlare.

The programme had been shelved with immediate effect, and the slot on SABC3 this Sunday, that should have featured Desmond Tutu, would now be a panel discussion on what makes a great South African, Matlare said.

He said SABC felt there needed to be broader participation in the nomination and voting process if the programme was to contribute to nation-building.

"We need to ensure that each and every South African knows about the initiative and plays an active role in defining the outcome."

However, Matlare said the series had played a positive role in triggering debate around what makes someone a great South African.

"In line with our mandate of creating unity among South Africans, we would like to see a national debate around this issue."

Nelson Mandela was voted as the greatest South African in the initial contest. The SABC3 programme was supposed to determine who out of the next top ten deserved to stand next to Mandela as the second greatest.

The nominees were Gary Player, Chris Barnard, Desmond Tutu, Thabo Mbeki, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Jan Smuts, Mahatma Gandhi, F W De Klerk, and Nkosi Johnson.

Matlare said a more detailed announcement would be made "once we have considered the options".