You have a right to be informed
KNOWLEDGE is power, and under apart- heid the SABC censored news to stop South Africans knowing the full extent of the repression and rebellion in our land. They had been kept in the dark by the National Party and its hand-picked SABC executives. Protests yesterday by journalists and civil so- ciety activists outside SABC offices around the country were to prevent us returning to a situation where party loyalists decide what citizens should know about daily life in our country. At the heart of it all is the SABC’s chief operating officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, viewed as President Jacob Zuma’s ally, who has told journalists not to cover violent protests because this leads to copycat actions. He has also canned current affairs programmes where guests were often critical of the government and the ANC, and banned the display of newspapers’ front pages and discussion about their content. Senior SABC staffers who spoke out against the broadcaster’s censorship face disciplinary hear- ings. They said the newsroom was a hub of “de- rision and despair”. Others were suspended for defying Motsoeneng’s order not to cover a censor- ship protest at the SABC’s headquarters. Acting group chief executive Jimi Matthews resigned on Monday in protest of the “corrosive atmosphere” at the broadcaster. Instead of taking the criticisms seriously and trying to reassure the public the SABC would do its job and keep the public informed, Motsoeneng accused critics of trying to destabilise the SABC. It is he and his cohorts, at Auckland Park and Luthuli House, who are doing a great job of turning the public broadcaster into a state broadcaster. Intelligent people in the ANC must be embar- rassed at how the SABC is being run, and Parlia- ment must get to grips with this situation. Surely it is in everyone’s interests for the SABC to serve all of us and cover events without fear or favour?