THE ROLE OF THE SABC
With the dawn of our new democracy in 1994 many South Africans, myself included, breathed a sigh of relief that we would not be treated to the Cliff and Pik (Cliff Saunders & Pik Botha) show on SABC every Sunday evening.
This was because during CODESA negotiations prior to the 1994 democratic elections it was agreed to transform the SABC from a “state broadcaster” to a “public broadcaster” in the public interest, and to ensure fairness and a diversity of views broadly representing South African society.
On 14 November 1992 then Secretary-General of the ANC Cyril Ramaphosa said in a speech:
“The ANC is committed to public broadcasting which is independent of the government of the day, and which owes its loyalty not to any party, but to the population as a whole. In other words, we propose a broadcast service committed to providing full and accurate information to all South Africans, and one which is protected from interference by any special interests – be they political, economic or cultural.”
I wonder what Cyril has to say about the SABC of 2016?
The SABC charter that defines the values and principles of the SABC’s role as a public broadcaster include, to play a part in healing divisions of the past; to promote respect for democratic values and human rights; to supply information that allows citizens to exercise their rights, and to reflect the rich diversity of a united South Africa. These values bridge political, class, racial and gender divides that anchor us as a nation.
As a public broadcaster these should form the foundations of the SABC’s editorial policies.
In recent weeks under the tyrannical leadership of the Chief Operating Officer of the SABC, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the SABC is no longer public broadcaster but is unashamedly an ANC state broadcaster under the direct instructions of Motsoeneng.
In the same way as The National Party’s Minister for Posts and Telegraphs (1958 to 1968), Dr Albert Hertzog, together former Chief Executive Piet Meyer (1959 to 1972) turned the SABC into the National Party’s propaganda machine so too are the current Minister of Communication Faith Muthambi and CEO Hlaudi Motsoeneng turning the current SABC into the ANC’s propaganda machine.
While Hlaudi Motsoeneng was acting chief operating officer in February 2014, the Public Protector found that he was “dishonest” and had been allowed to operate above the law. In her final report, Madonsela found that: his appointment as acting chief operating officer was irregular; his salary progression from R1, 5-million to R2, 4-million in one fiscal year was irregular; and that he had fraudulently claimed to have a matric qualification. She further stipulated that the financial losses sustained because of Motsoeneng’s conduct, be recovered from him.
Inexplicably the SABC board still took the decision to appoint him as COO. No doubt because as Communications Minister Faith Muthambi told a board member “But Baba (Zuma)loves him, he loves him so much. We must support him.”
The SABC and Motsoeneng disputed the findings of the PP and never implemented her remedial action. The DA referred their action to the Western Cape High Court which upheld the DA appeal.
Subsequently this judgement was appealed to the Supreme Court of Appeal by Motsoeneng and Muthambi. The Supreme Court of Appeal rejected the appeal.
Immediately after the SCA ruling Motsoeneng and the Communications Minister announced their intention to appeal the judgement to the Constitutional Court. Another delaying tactic employed by Motsoeneng and the minister and certainly a waste of more taxpayers’ money.
In the mean time the Democratic Alliance has revealed that Motsoeneng’s salary went up from R2.8 million to R3.7 million(31% increase) in the last financial year.
Nonetheless, Hlaudi remains in charge of the SABC destroying its independence and reputation day by day.
SABC THE ANC STATE BROADCASTER
With the Local Government Elections looming large on the horizon being a loyal ANC deployee Comrade Hlaudi sprung into action to do his bit for number one
On 27 May 2016 the SABC said that it had taken a decision that it would not show footage of people burning public institutions such as schools in any of its news bulletins with immediate effect. They issued a press statement that:
“These actions are regrettable and viewed as regressive on the developments made after 22 years of South Africa’s democracy. Continuing to promote them might encourage other communities to do the same. The SABC would like to stress that we will continue to cover news without fear or favour. We will not cover people who are destroying public property,”
The SABC’s Hlaudi Motsoeneng insists the decision is responsible journalism. “These people who are marching will call for a camera to focus on them as they burn [property], and that is inciting violence. We can’t allow that to happen.”
This new SABC “policy” is remarkably similar to that of the former apartheid government. On 12 June 1986 Law and Order Minister Louis le Grange said government was “concerned with the presence of television and other camera crews in unrest situations, which proved to be a catalyst to further violence.”
Clearly the more things change the more they stay the same.
What happened to Cyril Ramaphosa’s vision in 1992 of “…. a broadcast service committed to providing full and accurate information to all South Africans….”
This ruling is in direct conflict with the EDITORIAL CODE OF THE SABC “we report, contextualise, and present news and current affairs honestly by striving to disclose all the essential facts and by not suppressing relevant, available facts, or distorting by wrong or improper emphasis.”
Not surprising the Communications Minister Muthambi responded “…It is our belief that the decision by the public broadcaster not to show footage of people burning public institutions, such as schools and libraries, in any of its news bulletins, will go a long way to discourage attention-seeking anarchists,”
A view supported by African National Congress spokesperson Zizi Kodwa who said that the SABC made the right call because it’s educating citizens and showing responsible journalism.
Obviously the ANC and the Government support this move because it hides voter anger with the ANC’s non delivery of services and their broken election promises. By not broadcasting the foll truth including the burning down of buildings, the rest of the world does not know of SA ruling party’s inability to govern this country.
All right minded South Africans condemn the vandalising of infrastructure and the destruction of schools, and public infrastructure. However, hiding the fact does not resolve the issue. Government has to start delivering on promises and stop wasting money on places like Nkandla or R8.6 million spent on vehicles for President Zuma’s wives.
Unlike 1986 an SABC ban will be far less effective because today the news spreads faster and wider through social media than the SABC can ever hope to equal. Furthermore, South Africans can now see the accurate news on eNCA, also an increasing number of South Africans, especially ANC middle class urban voters have access to international news broadcasts on DSTV. Trying to hide information will in fact antagonise many voters.
The same way as Motsoeneng wanted 70% good news broadcast his ANC deployment to manipulate the SABC is doomed to failure.
On Sunday “The Editors” a very popular programme on SAfm that was broadcast on Sunday mornings where the events of the week were critically analysed, debated and discussed by newspaper journalists and editors was inexplicably canned with effect from Sunday morning.
Top of Form
Responding after the prestigious show was pulled without notice from its regular media slot on Sunday morning, SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said: “It is very simple. Radio is very dynamic. We change programmes all the time. The feature had been there for more than 20 years.
On Monday morning the listeners to SAfm woke to discover that the reading of newspaper headlines on all SABC radio stations had been stopped. The reading of the morning’s newspaper headlines is a practice on radio and TV stations worldwide, particularly on news and talk radio, as a method to review stories currently in the news cycle.
Motsoeneng’s sidekick SABC spokesperson commented that “there was nothing sinister” in the decision.
These moves follow on the decision to can the SABC show ‘On the Record’ after its host Vuyo Mvoko planned to discuss state capture on live TV.
The Sunday Times also recently reported how the SABC banned open lines on its radio talk shows in a bid to stop anti-ANC government callers from voicing their issues in the build-up to local government elections.
It is clear that through Motsoeneng, the ANC is controlling the SABC ahead of the election and will stop at nothing to ensure that as many South Africans as possible are kept in the dark in the run-up to the elections.
SABC’s POLITICAL INTERFERENCE:
With the legal start of the election campaigns this week South Africa saw one of the most blatant attempts to interfere with our democracy with the SABC refusing to broadcast paid advertisements of the Democratic Alliance on the most spurious of grounds. These were:
- Firstly they said that it has not organised slots for political parties; a lie because no slots have to be allocated for paid advertisements;
- The second argument was made by Kaizer Kganyakgo on SAfm when he said that the SABC is awaiting for the DA to amend their adverts – however the DA were never advised as to what changes needed to be made and were eventually broadcast unchanged;
- Thirdly, a classic the SABC had to confirm that the DA is a registered political party and have submitted candidates lists;
Eventually, before ICASA could have a hearing on the DA complaint the SABC relented and agreed to flight the advertisements. A case that the SABC could not win because the regulations about political adverts are perfectly clear.
Political Advertisements may be broadcast on any and all stations as the Party pays normal, commercial airtime rates.
This is not the first run in that the DA has had with Motsoeneng and the SABC. In May last year the DA had to go to the High Court to force the SABC to broadcast the congress live.
Never one afraid to stroke his own ego the DA last year revealed that the SABC has established a choir that sings songs in praise of SABC COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng in staff meetings with the lyrics “Hlaudi Motsoeneng reya o leboha” (“Hlaudi Motsoeneng we thank you”).
The budgeted cost of the SABC choir for the 2015/16, and 2016/17 financial years has been, R3.745 million and R3.780 million respectively. How much more poverty could have been alleviated has this been spent on poverty alleviation.
His recent announcements, taken without any background research, to set a quota of 90% local content on all SABC radio platforms was a populist decision prior to the elections. Motsoeneng told Jacaranda FM’s breakfast host, Rian van Heerden on Monday 6 June morning that he doesn’t need scientific research to make operational decisions at the public broadcaster. “I don’t believe in scientific research,” This is the same person who on 2 June declared that “educated people read too much”.
Amazing how opinions can change the well known journalist and political commentator Mondli Makhanye reminded us in City Press about the SABC’s reaction to an ICASA proposal in October 2015 to increase the local content to 70% which was documented in the March Government Gazette:
“The SABC is of the view that an increase of the local music quota should be based on music research with the public, thereby ensuring that radio stations respond to listener needs”.
“The SABC was of the view that 70% is high and will lead to loss of audiences. This proposed quota will hinder the growth of the public broadcaster … The SABC has to be responsive to the needs of its audiences.”
But then along comes a most competitive election where the ANC is under pressure and the loyal deployed cadre Hlaudi sprang into action and announced the 90% quota of local content an SABC radio and 80% on TV SABC3 plus an increase in royalties paid to artists from 3.2% to 4%.
Naturally all local artists were excited to the extent that one Mzwakhe Mbuli, remember him the ‘People’s Poet’ later jailed for 7 years for armed robbery, got so excited that he too composed a song:
“Hlau-di, Hlau-di, Hlau-di, Hlau-di, thank you SABC.”
Imagine how Hlaudi’s heart must have jumped with joy!
This ill thought out and unresearched decision is already coming back to bite the SABC.
On 25 May SABC lapdog spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago was adamant that Durban based Lotus FM which caters for the needs of the Indian community could not be exempt from the quota. He said “None of the stations can boycott the decision‚ even if they wanted to. Listeners are well within their rights to listen to whatever station they want but we are committed to developing local music‚ including those that appeal to Lotus FM listeners‚ and all of our stations must adhere to the quota”.Top of Form
However by 29 May the hapless Kganyago, who had previously insisted that the broadcaster’s commercial stations Metro FM and 5FM would not be exempt from the new policy requirements, confirmed that Metro FM was permitted to have a 50/50 quota on Sundays. He said that the decision was made because Metro FM “knows and understands its audience better than us”.
The arrogance of the man and the SABC that tells the Indian Community that they ‘must’ listen to the music that the SABC tells them to listen to. What about article 16(1)(c) of the constitution which provides for “Freedom of artistic creativity” or article 30 which states “Everyone is entitled to participate in the cultural life of their choice…” or clause 31(1)(a) which protects the rights of “Persons belonging to a community may not be denied the right to enjoy their culture”.
However, in 2012 Jacob Zuma said “the constitution exists only “to regulate matters” and that the ANC is “more important” than the constitution.” Therefore it does not matter how the SABC tramples on an individual’s constitutional rights.
In my opinion Hlaudi and his soul mates will rue their arrogance as the SABC loses its listeners and viewers who migrate to customer friendly stations/channels and their advertisers follow the listeners. Those artists who lose their income will hold Hlaudi responsible. According to Hlaudi “Only I have the knowledge to transform the SABC. “I have skills, I have expertise in me. I have everything!”
All South Africans who see their public broadcaster fast becoming the voice of Zuma’s ANC should take a stand and vote against the ANC on 3 August 2016
Until next time,
This newsletter is published by Clive Hatch former Leader of the Opposition in the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature and former DA Provincial Leader. These views are my personal views and do not represent those of any other person or organisation.