Former defence minister Charles Nqakula has apologised to one of the SABC 8 journalists, Lukhanyo Calata, for not being the critical voice needed during the unfolding saga at the public broadcaster.
Calata was one of four SABC journalists who testified on the violation of editorial policy at the public broadcaster before Parliament’s ad hoc committee into the board’s fitness to hold office.
In the letter Nqakula praises Calata and the other SABC 8 who testified, saying their input was inspiring.
He makes an impassioned apology directly to Calata for not taking up their cause.
“I also want to apologise to you, Lukhanyo, that I did not pick up cudgels on your behalf and the other comrades who raised their voices to challenge some of the decisions both the SABC management and the board were taking,” Nqakula writes.
Calata detailed how there were attempts by SABC editors to ban visuals of the EFF. He also told the committee the instructions came from former COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng whom he believed had protection and support from someone as high up as the President.
Calata was fired from the SABC after writing a column in a local newspaper questioning the editorial direction of the SABC. He was later rehired after challenging their dismissal in court. The opinion piece was also in commemoration of his father, Fort Calata, a member of the so-called Cradock Four, killed 31 years ago.
‘Searing his mind and soul’
Nqakula continues in his open letter that Calata reminds him of his father for challenging what he saw was wrong and his grandfather Arthur whom he says was a big influence politically.
He said he mentioned both of them in his upcoming biography and his publisher has been asking him why he has not spoken out against the ills at the SABC.
He said the question has been “searing his mind and soul”.
“I also apologise to him that I kept quiet when more critical voices should have been heard on the matter,” Nqakula said.
He suggested that many in the ANC were reluctant to act, afraid of deepening the divisions facing the party. However, he warned they could not be over cautious, rendering themselves ineffective and generally irrelevant.
“…I can see that there are many loose bricks in the structure of the edifice that is the ANC. Those bricks are a constant threat on the life of our glorious movement,” he writes.