ANC deputy secretary general, Jessie Duarte has called for the management and staff of news channel eNCA should undergo human rights training to learn about equality and non-racialism.
Duarte made the call on Tuesday when she led a picket outside the eNCA head office in Johannesburg on Tuesday as part of the ANC’s nationwide campaign against the scourge of racism in the country.
The pickets where organised following the channel’s reporter Lindsay Dentlinger’s inconsistent treatment of politicians in applying Covid-19 protocols during a recent live broadcast.
The broadcaster faced a backlash on social media with users accusing eNCA of racism and unconscious bias.
News clips also made the rounds online showing Dentlinger asking black politicians to put on their masks, right after speaking to white politicians wearing no masks. The reporter has, however, denied being racist and eNCA said it was still investigating.
In a statement last week, eNCA managing editor John Baily said the broadcaster had met with Dentlinger and concluded that her conduct “was not racially motivated or with malicious intent”.
Baily also said Dentlinger was a seasoned journalist with more than 21 years of experience and she had interviewed many high profile politicians without anyone calling her conduct into question.
“This incident represents an inaccurate and unfair image of her work,” Baily said.
However, Duarte expressed “great disappointment” in the media house’s defence of Dentlinger’s actions and called on the eNCA management to withdraw “the offensive statement”.
She also called on the broadcaster to issue an “unconditional apology to all South Africans for the pain and hurt that Dentlinger and the eNCA have caused”.
Duarte also urged the media house to “publicly acknowledged its history of mistreating its black journalists, some of whom have been forced out by the racially intolerable conditions at eNCA”.
It was also encouraged to “issue an unambiguous commitment that it will no longer tolerate racism within its ranks and to do something practical that will demonstrate genuine remorse”.
The ANC gave eNCA seven days to respond to its memorandum.
eNCA managing director Ndivhuho Munzhelele, who received the memorandum, said he welcomed the engagement with the governing party and assured South Africans that his company was committed to a non-racial and non-sexist country.
Munzhelele added that the company did not exist in a vacuum, but in a society and had to contribute towards nation building. he promised a response within seven days.
ANC’s head of organising, Nomvula Mokonyane, made it clear that the governing party’ protest should not be seen as an infringement on media freedom but a move to enforce such freedoms while holding those responsible to account.