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CityPress - - Voices -

South Africa loves a rebel. Be­cause of our past, it is the anti-es­tab­lish­ment fig­ure who barks at author­ity who is our in­evitable hero. A his­tory of strug­gle (and a pres­ence of strug­gle) means we idolise revo­lu­tion­ar­ies and rev­o­lu­tion.

But be­ware false gods. There is a ten­dency to make a hero of SABC chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Hlaudi Mot­soe­neng. He has so much chutz­pah and bravado that his an­tics are in­creas­ingly met with a mes­sage of “Who da man?”

Is it real? Is he a broad­cast ge­nius mak­ing good against the elite who are snooty about peo­ple without a ma­tric?

We don’t think so. Mot­soe­neng is about him­self only. His mis­sion at the SABC may be dis­guised as one for bet­ter jour­nal­ism and one that will build a united and ro­bust broad­caster, but it is only about self­ag­gran­dis­e­ment.

Mot­soe­neng’s rags-to-riches story (he started out as a Free State-based free­lancer for the SABC) may res­onate with many South Africans, but is he good for pub­lic broad­cast­ing?

Mot­soe­neng is on a mis­sion of grand cen­sor­ship, where he is con­trol­ling the mes­sage that mil­lions of South Africans re­ceive by ra­dio, TV and in­creas­ingly on­line. Not only has he cut com­men­ta­tors off ra­dio talk shows on pol­i­tics (a key part of pub­lic spec­trum democ­racy), he has sum­mar­ily canned pro­grammes or in­serts that don’t meet with the in­creas­ingly nar­row band of coverage he al­lows.

This is dan­ger­ous, es­pe­cially as the SABC is a vi­tal part of demo­cratic com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Mot­soe­neng is the coun­try’s cen­sor in chief. He is in vi­o­la­tion of poli­cies on pub­lic broad­cast­ing and he is in vi­o­la­tion of a court judg­ment.

Who will stop the cap­ture of the SABC? LIS­TEN­ERS OF SABC PUB­LIC BROAD­CAST­ING RA­DIO STA­TIONS (SUCH AS UKHOZI, UMHLOBO WENENE AND LESEDI) OF CUR­RENT AF­FAIRS PRO­GRAM­MING PER MONTH

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