Hlaudi is like Goebbels

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

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.

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