SABC Censorship: ANC firmly against any form of censorship at the SABC

JULY 12, 2016

The National Working Committee (NWC) of the African National Congress (ANC) on Tuesday said that it stands firmly against the SABC's new editorial policy that has resulted in many criticizing it as amounting to censorship.

In a statement, following its meeting on Monday, the ANC NWC said that the Media Charter of the ANC (Ready to Govern, 1992) affirms the fundamental principle that the ANC will create an open society characterized by the free flow of information and culture of open debate within the context of a democratic constitution and a Bill of Rights.

"It further identifies that at the core of democracy lies the recognition of the rights of all citizens to partake in society decision-making progress, requiring that individuals are armed with necessary information - 'an ignorant society cannot be democratic' and that 'there shall be no institutional or legislative measures restricting the free flow of information or imposing censorship over the media'," reads the statement.

"The ANC Media Charter further protects media workers against intimidation and other forms of pressure which inhibit their work.

"This has formed and remains the principle of the ANC's policy on press freedom and the right all our people have to access information. Successive conferences of the ANC have reaffirmed this position and amongst others resolutions of the ANC was a call to increase in local content across all SABC stations. The current debate is not about the 90% local content, local content is a policy position of the ANC and we fully support its implementation."

It said that the 53rd National Conference identified a "series of crises at the public broadcaster that reflect a lack of leadership, lack of accountability and poor management" with the National General Council (NGC) held in 2015 noting a "public broadcasting system beset by many structural, managerial and funding problems that needs to be restructured and repositioned to prioritize public service".

"It is against this background that the National Working Committee received a report from an earlier meeting of the Communications Sub-Committee on recent developments at the SABC. 

"The NWC reaffirmed the correctness of the Communications Sub-Committee position against any form of censorship being imposed at the SABC," the ANC NWC said.

"It further welcomed the ruling by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA). Matters relating to the corporate governance challenges in the institution and the high turnover of CEO's amongst others, will be receiving urgent attention. The ANC Parliamentary Caucus is also expected to give the SABC the requisite attention.

"The ANC is calling on all our structures to desist making any further comments on matters relating to the SABC."

'Nobody can change things at the SABC'

It remains to be seen how the SABC will respond after its Chief Operations Officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, on Monday afternoon reiterated that nobody, including ICASA, would change the SABC's position on the matter and that the 'censorship' at the broadcaster was just 'hullabaloo'.

ICASA had on Monday ordered the SABC to reverse its new editorial policy.

Watch video of Motsoeneng's responses to ICASA - courtesy of Tribes2Tribes Youtube Channel;