16 July 2018

South Africa: SABC Inquiry - EFF Says It Was a Victim of Editorial Interference

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) claim they have been direct victims of editorial interference and marginalisation at the SABC, a commission of inquiry into the public broadcaster heard on Monday.

The commission, chaired by the Press Council's executive director Joe Thloloe, is looking into political and editorial interference at the state broadcaster.

In May, the SABC announced that the commission would investigate the veracity of interference in the newsroom and probe "personal favours" in the workplace.

Making his submissions on Monday morning before the inquiry, EFF spokesperson Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi claimed that the party was "marginalised as a new player and opposition political party, particularly before and during the general elections of 2014".

Ndlozi claimed that, when other media platforms invited the party during its launch, Morning Live refused to do so.

In 2016, former SABC chief executive officer Jimi Matthews reportedly admitted that the public broadcaster deliberately banned the EFF and its leader Julius Malema.

Ndlozi said during that time, Matthews was quoted as saying the EFF and its leader were a "nuisance".

"Although Mr Matthews never testified under oath to this effect, neither in front of the [parliamentary] inquiry or any other authorities, as far as we are concerned, he is on public record," he said.

Ndlozi also alleged that former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng "explicitly asked us to retreat on criticism in Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Communications in exchange for more coverage.

"We obviously did not retreat and we were at the forefront of holding accountable and demanding a parliamentary inquiry into the SABC."

He also claimed that there has always been an attempt by the ANC to "marginalise and force marginalisation of opposition coverage".

"The idea that I am a dominant political party in Parliament and therefore I must get more news coverage is not only absurd, it reflects a very fascist attitude.

"As long as the ANC is not doing anything new, they don't deserve any news coverage at all," he said.

He said any station that gave the party a platform would be criticised internally.

"In fact, many producers, if not all producers who invited us to their shows and platforms they were responsible for, would always share with us that inviting the EFF and its leader Julius Malema came at a price and pressure from management."

Meanwhile, the ANC said it was demanding more coverage from the public broadcaster ahead of the 2019 general elections.

News24 previously reported that Zizi Kodwa, who is the head of the Presidency at Luthuli House argued that the SABC must recognise its majority share of the vote.

This was one of the issues presented by the party when it made submissions to the SABC's commission of inquiry into political interference at the public broadcaster.

"People of South Africa in a constitutional democracy have expressed their preference. The ANC enjoys 62%. How that gets carried out in terms of editorial news is something, one way or another, it must show," Kodwa told journalists after making presentation to the inquiry.

Source: News24

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