The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSA) expressed its outrage on Wednesday that SAFM at the last minute cancelled the “Workers on Wednesday” programme that was meant to include Middle East political commentator Na’eem Jeenah and representatives from trade union Cosatu and the National Council of Trade Unions (Nactu). The programme was meant to discuss Palestine.
PSA spokesperson Marten Jansen confirmed he had contacted the broadcaster to change the topic however he stated that it was done within 24hrs.
“This is not unusual and I have done this before especially when there are sudden and new developments within the labour movement. Our change of the programme was in response to Cosatu putting out a very strong statement,” said Jansen.
Cosatu has stated that they will increase and up their efforts in support of the Palestinians in terms of workers solidarity. This Jansen said tied into the theme of the worker’s programme.
Jansen said the organization felt that this was big news due to the fact that the workers’ solidarity with Palestine or any other countries often involve serious action. He reiterated that they wanted to tackle it from a labour worker’s perspective in terms of international solidarity with Palestine.
“Like blocking action in relation to ships and not loading any products from Israel….this is a fairly big story that was unfolding,” Jansen continued.
However, SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said this was not the case and that Jansen wanted to discuss the above mentioned topic at the last minute, which was not the original agreement.
Kganyago said that SAFM did not cancel the “Workers on Wednesday” programme but continued the programme as per schedule.
“The programme that was meant to be discussed today was the farm workers minimum wage and the struggle for a living wage. However, last night Mr Marten Jansen changed the topic to Palestinian solidarity and the station felt that it is unacceptable. SAFM then continued with the previously agreed upon topic,” said Kganyago.
However, local media analysts believe this is another display of the SABC’s bias towards Israel. A local media monitoring group called Samnet said that in a recent interview with the Palestinian and Israeli ambassadors on SAFM, he felt the presenter used an accusatory tone when addressing the Palestinian viewpoint, whilst taking a more sympathetic approach to the Israeli cause.
In response, Kganyago said those who accuse the SABC of being pro-Israel are misguided. He said that they are not influenced by any parties and project issues just as it happens.
Kganyago refutes any claims that the South African Jewish Board of Deputies had entered into a formal agreement with the SABC to censor how the state broadcaster presented affairs concerning the Middle East.
“That is ridiculous because how do you enter into an agreement with somebody to censor a broadcaster. We would not allow anyone to censor us and we will never get into such an agreement,” added Kganyago.
Kganyago said matter was raised and challenged with the parties concerned. VOC (Imogen Vollenhoven)