South Africa: SANEF outraged by baseless attack on election coverage of SABC News and its editor
The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) finds baseless and shameful the attack by Transport Minister and ANC election official, Fikile Mbalula, on SABC’s coverage of the November local elections. Mbalula blamed the public broadcaster for the ANC’s dismal performance in polls across the country, saying the SABC has never shown the ANC’s good side by focusing on negative service delivery issues in municipalities run by the party.
Mbalula should immediately end the personal attack on the editor and management of the SABC: SABC News & Current Affairs group, Ms Phatiswa Magopeni, as we have discovered in the past that it encourages cyberbullying by party members. and his supporters on social media. According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF) report sexisms_toll_on_journalism; women journalists face alarming additional risks that range from discrimination, sexual harassment and cyber-harassment to threats of rape, sexual assault, rape and even murder.
Addressing the Congress of the International Press Institute in Cape Town on February 14, 1994, South African statesman Nelson Mandela said: âNo person, no opinion group, no political or religious doctrine, no political party or government can claim to have a monopoly on the truth. . For this reason, truth can only be found through unfettered competition between and among competing opinions, in which as many points of view as possible are heard fairly and equally. “
Mbalula seems to hate the truth that came out of the SABC Service Delivery Gauge, a show that examined the performance of municipalities in delivering basic services through the authentic voices and opinions of the general public. He reportedly said the show ruthlessly attacked the ANC and accused the SABC of waging a “campaign” that led South Africans to decide not to vote on November 1. According to Mbalula, the show also put the ANC on the “back foot” as it focused only on the failures of ANC-led municipalities.
We believe the SABC has done its job in giving a voice to the citizens of this country to voice their concerns regarding service delivery in their respective municipalities.
It appears that Mbalula expects the SABC to gloss over the poor performance of ANC-led councils and operate as an extended PR machine of the ANC. It should be rejected. This would constitute a violation of its mandate as stipulated in Chapter IV of the Broadcasting Act (as amended) which requires the SABC to encourage the development of South African expression by offering, in the official languages, a wide range programs that:
- Reflects South African attitudes, opinions, ideas, values ââand artistic creativity
- Offers a plurality of perspectives and a variety of news, information and analysis from a South African perspective
- Advances the national and public interest.
Instead of being vilified, the minister, the ANC and all political parties and independent candidates should praise the SABC for its outstanding coverage of local elections with limited resources. The SABC should be protected from these misplaced notions of love journalism.
Mbalula and any citizen should instead register their complaint with the BCCSA and the Press Council instead of so recklessly generalizing about the perception of bias.
We wish to remind the ruling party that press freedom is the most important wheel of democracy. Without a free press, democracy cannot exist. The press is a big medium which conveys the truth to people. The press monitors those in power to ensure that they do not abuse it, and it prevents and corrects abuse of power.
During these elections, the media in South Africa was harassed by authorities, attacked by politicians and even robbed by criminals while covering the elections in many townships. We recognize and applaud the bravery of many journalists who have persevered in telling the stories of diverse communities despite the real danger, including the excruciating pandemic.
The history of African democracies led by liberation movements has taught us that the press is always the first institution to come under attack when a country’s rulers are faced with the uncomfortable truth of losing power and taking an undemocratic turn. The crackdown on free media is a strong indication that other political rights and civil liberties are at risk. Attacks on media independence are frequently associated with seizures of power by incumbent rulers as incumbent regimes attempt to crush perceived threats to their control.