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Anti-SABC protest goes to ANC’s doorstep

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The sustained clamour to have the “delinquent” SABC board removed will be brought to the ANC’s doorstep as civil-society organisations are expected to protest outside the party’s Luthuli House headquarters in central Joburg on Friday.

This decision was taken on Wednesday during a public planning meeting by the Right2Know Campaign (R2K) and SOS Coalition, among others.

The protest will start at noon, and the Joburg metro police department had given it the go-ahead, according to Palesa Kunene, the R2K pro-vincial administrator.

SOS Coalition’s Sekoetlane Phamodi said: “The big thing for us is the ANC can say all it likes about the situation at the SABC. Now they have to act. We have a delinquent parliamentary caucus of the ANC that is not doing enough to address the matter. They have to put their money where their mouth is. They need to act very strongly.”

The latest action against the SABC comes after chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng openly defied Monday’s ruling by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) that the SABC withdraw the ban on broadcasting violent protests.

Icasa ordered the SABC to confirm in writing within seven days that the ruling had been complied with.

Motsoeneng said they would not change their unprocedural editorial codes and that the ruling would be challenged in the highest court in the land if need be.

Kunene said they expected a huge turnout at the protest and had chosen Luthuli House because: “We feel the ANC is responsible for Hlaudi Motsoeneng continuing as COO. He is not supposed to be there because of the court judgment against him.”

Civil-society organisations had been constant in their criticisms of Motsoeneng’s leadership of the SABC, where seasoned journalists were suspended for opposing its censorship policy.

Motsoeneng has been facing criticisms from all fronts, including from the ANC, which has distanced itself from the controversial and divisive figure, said to have President Jacob Zuma’s backing.

Pressure had been mounting on Parliament to urgently reconvene its communications portfolio committee to deal with the crises at the broadcaster before municipal elections get under way in three weeks.

Bishop Abel Gabuza, chairman of the justice and peace commission of the South African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said people would not trust the outcome of the elections if the dispute regarding fair coverage and censorship by the SABC was not resolved.

He urged the portfolio committee to exercise its oversight leadership over the SABC.

Committee chairman Humphrey Maxegwana said they could reconvene only after the elections.

The ANC has also called in its lawmakers in the National Assembly to give the broadcaster “the requisite attention”, and criticised Motsoeneng’s defiant attitude.

Earlier this month, House chairman Cedric Frolick denied a request by the DA to summon the SABC board, Motsoeneng and Communications Minister Faith Muthambi to account for the mess.

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen weighed in on the issue on Wednesday, saying that if the ANC were serious about addressing the SABC matter, it would urgently reconvene the portfolio committee.

The ANC said it wanted the SABC’s high turnover of its chief executives addressed, as reports emerged that suspended chief executive Frans Matlala had reached an R18 million settlement with the broadcaster. The DA wanted the matter investigated.

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