'Explain Mbeki ban'

Johannesburg - The SABC's head of news Phil Molefe must explain to Parliament why there is a ban on television and radio coverage of former president Thabo Mbeki, the Democratic Alliance said on Sunday.

"This (ban) amounts to a full-on assault on the rights of South Africans to receive impartial, balanced news from the public broadcaster," said the DA's Chief Whip and MP Ian Davidson.

He was reacting to a report in the Sunday Times that the ANC headquarters allegedly instructed Molefe not to broadcast any interviews with Mbeki or any items about him.

Molefe reportedly called a meeting with senior news executives, where he told them that Mbeki's appearance on SABC television undermined ANC leader President Jacob Zuma.

"It is simply unconscionable that any political party would be dictating editorial policy to the SABC. Mr Molefe needs to explain his behaviour to Parliament," Davidson said.

The DA said the neutrality of the public broadcaster had been "severely compromised".

"One of the fundamental democratic rights of the citizens of South Africa is abused."

The DA said it would write to the chairperson of the portfolio committee and ask that a meeting with Molefe be called as soon as possible.

The SABC could not be reached for comment.

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