“This fight is not over. We will be back here on Wednesday,” ends a statement issued by The Civil Society Action Group Against SABC Censorship after they were stood up by Hlaudi Motsoeneng.
The group met with the controversial and increasingly-maligned COO of the SABC on Friday last week and were promised their next meeting today – to discuss the suspension of six SABC journalists.
“Hlaudi Motsoeneng has lied to us again. He didn’t bother to even turn up for a meeting he committed himself to, to address the current suspension of several SABC staff who are now facing disciplinary action on Friday,” reads the statement issued by the SOS Coalition, the Right2Know Campaign, Zwelinzima Vavi’s Committee for the New Federation and the unions Bemawu and Mwasa.
The group was “refused admittance to the SABC building and told that the COO had cancelled the meeting and announced that he is proceeding with disciplinary action against journalists, thus enacting his unlawful staff and censorship policies,” said New Federation’s Patrick Craven, announcing a press conference outside the SABC this afternoon at 1.30pm.
“The SABC’s refusal to lift the suspension of seven journalists is a direct threat to the ability of the public broadcaster to report freely and fairly on the upcoming local government elections which are just under a month away,” says the group’s statement.
“The political interference and advancement of sectarian interests over the public’s poses a threat to our constitutional democracy, and like the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) the SABC’s credibility cannot be questioned, given that the vast majority of the people of South Africa rely on this public utility to make informed decisions including to exercise their right to make an informed vote.”
The group reiterated that the censoring of protest footage by SABC is in contravention of the Broadcast Act and that, as per the Public Protector’s findings, Motsoeneng is in his position at SABC unlawfully.
“Unless the situation changes immediately, the SABC’s reportage poses a threat to free and fair elections,” they say.
The group says it will meet later today to plan a return protest at SABC on Wednesday.