The SOS Campaign issued a press release at the weekend calling on the SABC to lift its “deafening silence’ as regards the illegal appointment of the Head of News.
The SOS Campaign represents a number of trade unions (including Cosatu and Fedusa), a host of NGOs (including Media Monitoring Africa, the Freedom of Expression Institute and Misa-SA), CBOs, industry related bodies, academics and freedom of expression activists note the deafening silence from the SABC as regards the illegal appointment of the Head of News.
“As civil society we are still in the dark as to what is happening with a number of critical issues. We call on the SABC Board to:
- Publically explain what action is being taken as regards the actions of the Chair of the SABC Board, Dr. Ben Ngubane. Dr Ngubane’s unilateral decision to appoint the Head of News circumvented the SABC’s own internal processes and contravened good corporate practices and protocols as stipulated in the Broadcasting Act, Public Finance Management Act, the Companies Act and King III. In light of the above SOS would like to know why Dr Ngubane has not resigned or why the Board has not recommended to Parliament that he be removed.
- Publically explain the disciplinary action they are taking as regards the SABC’s GCEO, Solly Mokoetle. Mr Mokoetle initially implemented Dr Ngubane’s illegal decision to unilaterally appoint the Head of News. Then after the Board had clearly stated this action was illegal, and in a move that seriously deepened the crisis at the SABC, he then again confirmed the Head of News as Mr. Phil Molefe.
Further, SOS has noted with dismay that censorship, reminiscent of the black listing controversy of 2006, appears to have emerged once again. In this regard SOS calls on the Board to investigate allegations that the Deputy Chair of the SABC Board was censored when commenting on the appointment of the Head of News. Further, it appears that certain unions (including Cosatu) and NGO (including Media Monitoring Africa) pre-recorded radio interviews were spiked as they critically commented on the appointment of the Head of News. Also, SOS notes the resignation of the Head of Radio News. Allegations have been made that she broadcast, as she was obliged to, the Board’s press statement clarifying the illegal nature of the appointment of the Head of News. For taking this editorially sound decision she was then illegally disciplined which allegedly led to her decision to take early retirement.
SOS states once more that this is a critical moment for the SABC – and in particular the SABC Board. The public are beginning to lose faith in the SABC’s ability to reinvent itself as a well governed, strong, powerful, democracy enriching institution. The Board needs to show its mettle. There is no time to lose. SOS believes that the first step is to publically explain what is going on at the SABC! The World Cup can not be an excuse for inaction.’