MMA Responds, with Disappointment, to SABC Briefing in Parliament

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Given the crucial role of SABC senior management and the tacit support of the actions shown by the SABC Board and the Minister we can hardly be surprised that they would seek to defend their actions when appearing before the Communications Portfolio Committee in Parliament today, 23 August 2016. To be clear the case against the SABC editorial policy to ban showing public protests was comprehensively lost by the SABC.  Their arguments on the day of the hearing before the Complaints and Compliance Committee (CCC) and in the run up to the ICASA hearing were at best farcical and misleading and at worst deliberately untruthful with the intent to undermine our constitution.  The subsequent loss on the employment of 7 of the 8 SABC journalists who they subjected to unfair disciplinary processes was another clear indication from the courts that the actions of the SABC management were not only unethical but illegal.

Despite the losses, SABC senior management sought to spin events in a manner that suggested they somehow were not at fault.  Their argument and justification are so poor they do no merit repetition.  What is clear is that either SABC senior management exists in an alternative reality. Statements such as “there’s nothing unusual about its recent editorial policy changes and spiking stories it doesn’t like” (board member Aaron Tshidzumba) seem to clearly and deliberately seek to undermine our public broadcaster and our constitution. Neither of these scenarios should be acceptable for our democracy.  This is the reason why today, by not fully investigating the crisis at the SABC, the greatest shame has been brought on our parliament by those members of the portfolio committee who sought to condone and sweep away the seriousness of the allegations.  In doing so not only have they allowed the crises and censorship at the SABC to continue but they have also undermined the value and role of parliament in holding the public broadcaster accountable.

We also note the allegations made by some against civil society bodies questioning who funds us.  We welcome such questions and would invite representatives of parliament or the SABC to come to our offices where we will happily show them our financial statement.  Alternatively we will happily send them a copy of our latest audit.  The real question to be asked is where do those in senior management get their funds from?  Can we ask them to please provide full disclosure of their financial interests?

While hugely disappointed by the failure of parliament today our resolve is merely hardened.  Too many gave their lives to bring us our democracy and we will not let any greedy and self interested group destroy it.  With each day the level of public support for our campaigns grow, and with each reality-stretching comment made by SABC management our legal cases grow stronger.  Not only are we certain of victory in the long run, but we have faith in our courts and that those responsible will be held liable in their personal capacity.

For more information contact

 

William Bird (MMA Director)

williamb@mma.org.za

+2711 788 1278

 

Thandi Smith (Head of Policy)

thandis@mma.org.za

+2711 788 1278

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