You have a right to be in­formed

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

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?

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