Hlaudi is like Goebbels
THE state of affairs at the SABC, under chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng should be a cause for great concern for the citizens of our country and for our young democracy.
The resignation of the acting chief executive Jimi Matthews because of the corrosive atmosphere at the SABC, the number of journalists who have been dismissed for disobeying orders that went against their ethical and journalistic teachings, the widespread protests by senior announcers and other journalists at SABC offices and Motsoeneng’s claim that he is popular in the country all show a great parallel between his propaganda style and that of Dr Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s closest associate and head of the Nazi propaganda machinery in the 1930s and 40s.
When Germany became a dictatorship under Hitler, German scholars made a list of books that Germans should not read. German security officials went to libraries and accumulated about 25 000 books written by Jewish and non-Jewish authors and set them alight in one big bonfire in an effort to purge the German spirit. Some of the authors included Einstein, Freud, Ernest Hemingway and Hellen Keller.
When Keller, who overcame her blindness through her writing, was told about the mass burning of her books her response was: you can burn books but you cannot burn ideas.
This burning of great works of art in Germany sparked off huge protests in the major cities in America as a violation of freedom of speech.
When Motsoeneng ordered the SABC journalists not to cover violent protests in Tshwane and to portray the president in a favourable light, it was clear that this man, who lied about his matric and who has no qualifications in journalism, was taking his instructions from Luthuli House to keep his post.
The only difference between Hlaudi and Goebbels is that times have changed. If the SABC does not report news, there are millions of ways for the public to keep in touch with events through other media channels and through social media. Motsoeneng, very naively, dismissed the power of social media in a recent interview.
Clearly, when the man does not know the meaning of censorship and does not respect the power of social media, then one has to ask: how was he appointed as head of a public broadcaster as powerful as the SABC with no qualifications... and what is he smoking?
Luthuli House and Motsoeneng must understand that the SABC is a public broadcaster, owned by the state on the public’s behalf, not the government, and, while we are still a democracy, the government must respect the independence of the SABC to present the news frankly and fearlessly without any interference.
The capture of the SABC should be ideal grounds for a party like the EFF to expose the ANC from an election point of view because they have a lot to lose if the SABC fails to cover their rallies. I wonder if Julius Malema is so obsessed with his populist agenda that he cannot see the importance of this takeover of the SABC by the ANC.
It’s only the president and his henchmen, with much mud on their face after umpteen infractions, who will benefit from this autocratic takeover of the SABC. There isn’t a better time than now for the few surviving honest members in the ANC to purge their party of a leadership that has reduced the ANC of Albert Luthuli, Mandela, Sisulu, Kathrada, Naude, Ruth First, Asmal and many other stalwarts into a mere shadow of the party it was when it created the Freedom Charter. We cannot expect much from Cosatu or the SACP because they too are mere lackeys of Luthuli House.
It is time for South Africans from all walks of life to make a stand and take back the SABC and stop Luthuli House from destroying our hardfought democracy.