“Johannesburg, 03 September 2016 – ANC veteran Zola Skweyiya has added his voice to calls for an early elective conference. In an exclusive interview with eNCA, Skweyiya says he believes ANC leaders are out of touch with the aspirations of South Africans” (eNCA, 2016)
The SABC is silencing journalists who protest censorship and advocate for press freedom, while its leadership appears more interested in protecting and serving a privileged few than the Public.
WASHINGTON D.C., United States of America, July 20, 2016/APO/ —
In response to the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) firing seven staff journalists and a freelance writer, who are collectively known as the SABC 8, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“It is deplorable that the SABC fired its own journalists for insisting on covering the news,” said Lynn Fredriksson, director for Southern Africa programs. “The SABC is silencing journalists who protest censorship and advocate for press freedom, while its leadership appears more interested in protecting and serving a privileged few than the public. The SABC should quickly reinstate the journalists and reverse its decision to censor news content.”
Seven SABC journalists and one contracted freelance journalist were fired between July 18-19 for protesting an SABC management decision not to report on violent protests, a directive issued by Chief Operating Officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng in May 2016, ahead of violent unrest in Tshwane, the metropolitan area that includes Pretoria, the national capital. Critics of the SABC have likened its behavior to that of the Apartheid-era state broadcaster of the same name, in its use by the government as a propaganda tool.
The eight journalists say they will contest their firing in Labour Court and the Constitutional Court.
In November last year, the SABC’s previous CEO, Frans Matlala, was erroneously suspended for acting in a manner “too independent” for Mr Motsoeneng and Minister of Propaganda, Faith Muthambi.
In March this year, the SABC cancelled senior political journalist Vuyo Mvoko’s show, On The Record, after he had planned to discuss state capture by the Guptas on a future instalment of his show.
In May this year, the SABC refused to air the DA’s election adverts, citing “delays in the IEC’s work with respect to the elections”.
In June this year, Hlaudi banned the reading of newspaper headlines on all SABC radio stations.
Also in June this year, The Editors – a very popular programme on SAFM on Sunday mornings where the political events of the week are critically analysed, debated and discussed by newspaper journalists and editors – was discontinued.
Just last week, Hlaudi Motsoeneng placed a ban of visuals of community protests involving the destruction of public property in Tshwane.
Fellow South Africans, our constitution protects freedom of the press and the free flow of information by stating that “everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom of the press and other media, and freedom to receive or impart information or ideas”.
Nowhere in the Constitution does it say – “unless the President does not approve, or unless it paints the government and governing party in a bad light”.