Are we really free or are we dom? Let the truth be told and seen
We have reached out to the ANC to insist that the Party refrain from interfering in the affairs of our national public broadcaster, the SABC, which has been the site of its internal factional battles, and use its legitimate influence in Parliament and Government to rein in its renegade Minister of Communication. Faith Muthambi has been delinquent in her duty and oath of office to promote and uphold the laws of South Africa, including the Constitution, by propping up Hlaudi Motsoeneng and giving him unprecedented political protection while he devastates what little is left of the SABC’s credibility.
She has failed outright at taking the necessary steps to fix the underlying problems of the SABC’s independence and commercial viability, and prevented it from carrying out its mandate to the people. Instead, she has undertaken the unprincipled campaign to return the SABC back to a State broadcaster like we had in the apartheid years. A State broadcaster that reports on sunshine news when our townships are burning.
The governing party must put its money where its mouth is in defending in the integrity of the SABC, because blowing hot steam in press conferences is not enough. Media workers in the SABC need to be protected from the chilling effect of intimidation through suspension and unfair dismissals instituted by Hlaudi Motsoeneng and his never-ending band of “Acting” goons.
In a constitutional dispensation, South Africa’s public institutions, all of which belong to the people, we cannot tolerate the kind of red-telephone lumpen dictatorship that the SABC suffers under Hlaudi Motsoeneng. Even in spite of a Chapter 9 institution, ICASA, ordered the SABC to reverse its protest ban policy, he showed his contempt for it like he did the Public Protector by declaring that “we are not going to change anything”. His board of lapdogs that rubber stamp all of his disastrous decisions duly sang along. We are not surprised. This is the sort of outright contempt for the public, media workers, fundamental constitutional values and for democratic institutions that we have to come expect from Motsoeneng, and the morally bankrupt clique that surrounds him.
In a desperate effort to scrape out a degree of popular legitimacy, Motsoeneng has appealed to an assortment of ZUPTA- aligned political thugs and faux-gressives, and attempted to win over struggling artists with his promise of 90% local content. Yet with breathtaking arrogance and at the risk of alienating his own political masters, Motsoeneng has shown a middle finger to a growing circle of ANC leaders who are increasingly fed up with seeing a petty tyrant running the country’s single largest and most important media machine into the ground. Although Motsoeneng is carrying out the will of a corrupt and paranoid faction of the ruling elite who want to see the public broadcaster eschew diversity and plurality by peddling a tightly controlled narrative, to many in the ANC and outside of it, he is an embarrassment and political liability ahead of the upcoming and highly contested local government elections.
We, the undersigned, demand:
- The immediate and unconditional lifting of the suspension of SABC journalists facing disciplinary action for being brave citizens and refusing to undermine the credibility and integrity of our SABC.
- We demand that the SABC’s illegally revised editorial policies be scrapped, and all journalists suspended under Motsoeneng’s edict be reinstated with immediate effect.
- We demand the immediate reversal of all downward editorial decisions premised on the unlawfully revised editorial policy.
- We demand that Motsoeneng is sacked from the SABC, in keeping with the Public Protector’s recommendations and the Western Cape High Court’s judgment which found his appointment to be “irrational” and, therefore, unlawful in the first place.
- We demand that Faith Muthambi is sacked from the Ministry of Communications for her delinquency in ensuring that the SABC complies with the letter and spirit of the law as she undertook to do in her oath of office.
Save Our SABC Coalition
Media Monitoring Africa
Freedom of Expression Institute
Thembelihle Crisis Committee (TCC)
Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee (SECC)
Voice of the Voiceless (VOV)
Voice of the Poor Concerned Residents (VPCR)
Ekurhuleni Environment Organisation (EEO)
Keep Left (KL)
Kwatsaduza Community &Workers Forum (KCWF)
Midrand Workers- (MW)
Schubart Park Youth Empowerment Organization SPYEO
Midrand Solidarity Economy Education Communication Cooperative (MSEECC)
Makause Community Development Forum (MACODEFO)
National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA)
Media Workers Association of South Africa (MWASA)
United Democratic Front (UDF)
The Committee for a New Trade Union Federation