Jimi Matthews did the right thing - former SABC board member

Jimi Matthews. (Netwerk24)
Jimi Matthews. (Netwerk24)

Cape Town - Former SABC head of radio news Pippa Green believes Jimi Matthews did the right thing by resigning from his role as acting CEO at the public broadcaster.

Green, who also served as a board member from 2010 to 2013, said Matthews should be commended for his bravery “in this moment”.

- Read more: SABC Acting Group CEO Jimi Matthews quits

At the same time, the SA National Editors' Forum likened recent happenings at the SABC to the state of the broadcaster under the apartheid regime.

“I think Jimi did the right thing. I think he should be commended for doing the right thing," Green told News24 on Monday.

“The support on social media has been overwhelming.

“I’ve known him and worked with him as an SABC board member. I've known him from the 1980s already, and he was one of the bravest journalists in the country.”

Green first reacted to Matthews’s announcement earlier on Monday on Twitter, retweeting his resignation letter with the caption “Brave heart returns.”

'Crisis should go through Parliament'

Green also lamented the current state of affairs at the national broadcaster, following a number of changes chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng has implemented, including a complete ban on broadcasting visuals of violent protests.

“I’m obviously concerned for what’s been going on at the SABC for a number of years now in terms of news coverage, and the Broadcasting Act.

“I am relieved [for him], but it’s an absolutely sad comment on the SABC, where they have chosen to suspend their best talent and have lost their best talent.

“Parliament should have a public hearing on the crisis at the SABC, and look at the legislation and respect the Broadcasting Act.”

- Read more: The rise and rise of Hlaudi Motsoeneng – 'Insulting the struggle'

Three senior members of staff were suspended earlier this month for allegedly contravening an order not to cover a protest.

Three board members were also removed from the SABC last year, including the late Hope Zinde, and accused of disclosing confidential board information at an ANC workshop.

Green said lessons should be learnt from the incident in 2015, and that legal processes for the national broadcaster should be followed.

“As far as I am aware, if you check the Broadcasting Act, the board cannot remove its own members without a process, it has to be represented in Parliament.

“The board members can only be removed [then] by the president after it goes to Parliament.”

SABC turning into 'state broadcaster'

The SA National Editors' Forum on Monday also commended Matthews on his decision to resign from the public broadcaster.

“Matthews was at least on paper the most senior official of the corporation. That he feels there is a corrosive atmosphere that he as the CEO cannot do anything about speaks volumes about corporate governance within the SABC,” a statement released on Monday read.

“The SABC is an asset of the South African public as a whole and that it is being turned into a state broadcaster that only serves the interests of the ruling party is wrong and should be strongly condemned.

“In just the past month alone, visuals of violent incidents were banned, staff were told not to use stories that speak ill of President Jacob Zuma, and three staff members who expressed a dissenting opinion on these issues were suspended.”

Sanef likened the recent changes to decisions taken under the apartheid regime, and called on the leadership at the SABC to reverse its decision to censor violent protests, and allow its journalists to work in a free environment.

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