SABC in conflict with the Constitution over ban on protests - ANC

Johannesburg - The SABC is in contravention of the Constitution as well as ANC policy, ANC communications sub-committee chair Jackson Mthembu told journalists on Tuesday.

"If you put a blanket ban on the coverage and footage of what is already burning, you are in conflict with the Constitution and you are in conflict with what we have stood for of allowing South Africans to watch what they want to watch and make up their own minds."

Mthembu was reacting to SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng's recent announcement on the SABC's revised policy to no longer televise images of violent protests. 

He said this was an unintelligent decision by the SABC.

"There is nobody who should decide what somebody should watch. That decision has to be taken ‎by the people of SA through public participation, not someone sitting in some cosy office. That is arrogant," he told journalists.

Mthembu held a press briefing at Luthuli House to discuss matters of press freedom. 

ANC 'not alerted' to changes

The public broadcaster has received wide criticism for its suspension of three journalists who spoke out against the refusal to cover Right2Know's protest on its alleged censorship.

Several other journalists at the SABC have been charged and will be appearing at disciplinary hearings as a result. 

Mthembu insisted that the ANC was never alerted about any policy changes within the SABC.

He said the party would be meeting with communications Minister Faith Muthambi to discuss the sudden changes enforced at the broadcaster.

"The decision of the SABC to desist from showing the destruction of property has not been consulted with the ANC. This is worrying as it amounts to change in policy positions of the governing party," Mthembu said.

He said public participation processes and an engagement with the ANC were never followed in the execution of this policy. 

He added that Muthambi will have to come up with a turnaround strategy that will ensure that the SABC has proper managerial skill sets at its highest levels.

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