Editorials 26.3.2014 08:30 am

SABC denials lack credibility

SABC chairperson Zandile Tshabalala has a credibility problem in her attempts to deny she campaigned for the governing ANC on Sunday.

First, the SABC is widely regarded as pro-ANC. There is a history of SABC bosses blacklisting certain political commentators, canning shows which portray the party in an unfavourable light, and so on.

Second, there is Tshabalala’s track record. On her official CV she is still President Jacob Zuma’s adviser on broad-based black economic empowerment.

She made headlines recently with a vigorous defence of SABC acting chief operating officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, who does not have a matric and is renowned for his pro-Zuma views.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, in her report “When Governance and Ethics Fail”, said Motsoeneng had irregularly received three salary hikes in one year, jumping from R1.5 million to R2.4 million.

Tshabalala dismissed these and other criticisms, saying Motsoeneng “is diligent and very capable. The members of the board are right behind him.”

This is the same Motsoeneng who issued instructions that at least 70% of SABC news must be positive, and who has prohibited shows on the grounds that they might offend Zuma. Basically the SABC is run by a Zuma supporters club.

So it was no surprise when Tshabalala told kwaMashu residents on Sunday, “This government knows where it is going; it has a history. Do not follow political parties; you do not know where they are going.”

That’s regulation ANC electioneering. In response to our report on the speech, the SABC says Tshabalala was quoted out of context. Indeed, aren’t we all?

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago, with a glimmering of the responsibilities of a public service broadcaster, says the corporation will “never influence the public to vote one way or the other”.

If only that were true.

 

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