“The DA has received notice from the SABC that it is removing the DA’s ‘Ayisafani’ television commercial from the airwaves,” spokesman Mmusi Maimane said in a statement.
“This is censorship pure and simple.”
The advert in question shows the DA’s Gauteng premier candidate and spokesman, Maimane, standing in front of a mirror talking about the current state of the country.
He says life today is better than it was 20 years ago and gives credit to great leaders who he believes have taken the country forward.
“But since 2008 we’ve seen President Jacob Zuma’s ANC. An ANC that is corrupt. An ANC for the connected few. An ANC that is taking us backwards. An ANC where more than 1.4 million people have lost jobs.”
Maimane then asks Zuma where the jobs are.
He continues to speak about news events such as police brutality and the R246 million upgrade to Zuma’s private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal.
The advert ends with Maimane saying: “Together we can bring hope, allow an environment that creates jobs. Together we can bring change for all South Africans.”
In his statement, Maimane said the reasons advanced by the SABC were spurious and illegal.
He accused the SABC of protecting Zuma from public accountability for the Nkandla scandal.
“The unavoidable conclusion is that the SABC has bowed to pressure from the ANC to remove the commercial. We know that the ANC is worried about the hugely positive response that the advert has generated,” he said.
Maimane promised to fight the censorship and would approach The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa).
“Political advertising regulations require us to approach Icasa. We are confident Icasa will dismiss the SABC’s censorship and reinstate the commercial immediately,” he said.
In the letter, which Sapa is in possession of, SABC acting group CEO Tian Olivier informed the party the corporation would no longer be able to broadcast the advert on radio and television.
“The Icasa regulation on political advertising states clearly that there may not be incitement to violence.”
“It is our view that the reference in your television advertisement to police killing our people is cause for incitement against the police services,” Olivier said in the letter.
The letter further states that the Electoral Code of Conduct included a clause prohibiting the publication of false information about other candidates or parties.
“We believe this can also be extended to information that has not yet been tested and confirmed in a court of law, such as the allegations in your advertisement regarding the Nkandla matter.”
He further stated that the Code of the Advertising Standards Authority of SA (ASA) did not permit attacking another product to promote your own.
Olivier said although ASA did not have jurisdiction over political advertisement during an election period, he believed the complaints and compliance committee of Icasa, which had jurisdiction, would apply the same principle.
“We are also of the view that the SABC will not permit personal attacks on any party member or leader by any other party, as being done in your advertisement in respect of… Zuma,” Olivier said.
“We do not have any concern about generic statements regarding matters such as corruption or lack of service delivery, but do not believe that it is correct to pin such issues on any specific person…”
SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago did not immediately respond to questions pertaining to the letter and its contents.