SACP slams ‘personality cult’ around Motsoeneng

Hlaudi Motsoeneng speaks to The Citizen, 4 May 2015, in his then office at the SABC in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. Picture: Michel Bega

The party has also pledged its support for the suspended employees who did not heed instructions not to cover a protest.

The South African Communist Party on Sunday called on SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) bosses to “reverse their draconian editorial policy, to refrain from changing policies without proper public consultation given that the SABC is a public broadcaster, and to respect workers’ rights”.

At the same time the SACP strongly criticised the “creation of a personality cult in the unlawfully appointed” SABC chief operations officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng, saying it constituted a deeply worrying trend.

“The news this week that SABC economics editor Thandeka Gqubule, Radio Sonder Grense executive producer Foeta Krige, and senior journalist Suna Venter have been suspended for disagreeing with an instruction during a diary meeting not to cover a campaign protest against censorship at the public broadcaster is shocking to say the least,” the SACP said in a statement.

“The suspensions follow a decision taken within the SABC, announced in May, that the broadcaster will no longer cover footage of violent protests in its news reporting.

“The suspensions clearly expose the draconian character of the internal censorship that has been imposed at the SABC and manipulation of news from within,” the SACP said.

Since the banning decree was announced it had become very difficult to trust the SABC as a source of uncensored news. Each time news was broadcast the unanswered question of what was concealed resurfaced. This was very bad for the image and credibility of the SABC.

“The SABC must broadcast news without fear or favour. This includes both good and bad news.

“The SACP and indeed many law-abiding South Africans have always condemned the destruction of public property and even taken action against such criminality. It can only be intellectual bankruptcy to suggest that South Africans are a homogeneous mind that takes its cue from wrongdoing when it is broadcast on television. The SABC in fact reserves the right to condemn such wrongdoing in its news coverage and educational programmes,” the SACP said.

“The populist posture towards policy and labour relations at the SABC based on the creation of a personality cult in the unlawfully appointed COO constitutes a deeply worrying trend.

“A personality cult emerges, among others, when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, or other methods to create an idealised, heroic, and at times worshipful image, often through unquestioning flattery, praise, and based on ‘being in charge’ threats to others as a means of manufacturing their consent. Instead of complicity, the SABC board should be worried about the deteriorating state of good governance at the SABC. It is not too late to turn the tide,” the SACP said.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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