Public broadcaster SABC has contemptuously rejected an article which appeared in the Sunday Times on 11 July claiming that the SABC has banned former South African President Thabo Mbeki from all its news platforms. The SABC claims the article is “totally false, malicious and intended to mislead and without base.’
The Sunday Times article, by Moipone Malefane, alleges that the SABC’s acting head of News Phil Molefe gave an instruction banning interviews with Mbeki (and news items about him) from all its radio stations and television channels. It claims that its source, an unnamed senior manager, was called into a meeting where Molefe said the Mbeki instruction came directly from ANC headquarters at Luthuli House, which was concerned that Mbeki’s appearance on SABC TV undermined ANC leader President Jacob Zuma. (Mbeki had been interviewed on the SABC after Ghana’s victory over the US at the Fifa World Cup. He also appeared o the SABC current affairs show, Interface.)
SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kgangago denied the Sunday Times’ claim: “There was never any instruction given to anybody or an intention to ban former President Mbeki from any of our platforms. The SABC has not received any instruction from Luthuli house or from Mahlambandlovu as is alleged in the article. The SABC is guided by its editorial policy and we will never take instructions from anyone or any organisation.
“These baseless and malicious allegations are purportedly made by sources within the SABC newsroom. As indicated in the story, the allegations are based on one faceless source and are not corroborated. The same sources intentionally omitted to mention that all the stories are discussed in a daily dairy meeting like it happens in all other media houses.’
According to The Star, former SABC presenter John Perlman, who resigned in 2007 when news bosses banned the use of certain political commentators, posted a note on Facebook, saying the alleged banning of Mbeki was quite ironic, as Mbeki’s supporters “set about silencing voices on the national broadcaster during his rule’.
Kganyago said the SABC reserved the right to pursue any legal avenue available to it, in order to deal with "these malicious rumours". “The rumours are intent on causing confusion and havoc and undermining the SABC’s integrity after we have successfully broadcast the best Fifa World Cup ever.’