“M-Net thanks Cliff for the critical role he has played in seeking out and developing new talent over the years and for contributing to the success of the show to date,” the channel said in a statement.
Cliff joined the talent search contest in 2005 during its third season.
This comes after Cliff’s comments on Twitter regarding the Penny Sparrow saga earlier in the week. He tweeted that people clearly did not understand free speech.
His comments were met with much criticism from Twitter users, some of whom accused him of condoning Sparrow’s racist comments.
Cliff later apologised for the tweet.
Read M-Net’s statement explaining why Gareth will not be on the Idols SA judging panel below:
“Over the last few months following Unathi’s indiscretions on social media, we have been in discussions with our judges, presenters and talent to sensitise them to the risks of using social media. All the Idols SA judges were reminded that M-Net holds all brand ambassadors and employees to the highest standards in our ongoing efforts to promote and build a modern and inclusive South Africa.
Unfortunately we then had to deal with Somizi’s inappropriate comments and following the latest issue, we have now implemented a zero tolerance policy for all social media posts that go against the spirit of nation-building. This policy will apply to everyone associated with our brands going forward.
We do not believe that Gareth is a racist but his response showed a lack of empathy for our history and it is important to differentiate between freedom of speech and hate speech. Penny Sparrow’s comments were hateful. Hate speech is not applicable with regard to freedom of speech.”
Countrywide auditions for the 12th Season of Idols SA are set to begin at the end of this month.
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