According to Tech Central, veteran journalist and SABC acting CEO Jimi Matthews has quit, saying in his resignation letter that what is happening at the state-owned broadcaster is “wrong’ and that he can “no longer be a part of it.’
Matthews tweeted a copy of his resignation letter on Monday morning, 27 June 2016. “It is with great sadness that I tender my immediate resignation,’ he wrote in the letter, which is addressed to SABC board chairman Obert Maguvhe. “For many months I have compromised the values that I hold dear under the mistaken belief that I could be more effective inside the SABC than outside, passing comment from the sidelines,’ he wrote.
“In the process, the prevailing, corrosive atmosphere has impacted negatively on my moral judgment and has made me complicit in many decisions which I am not proud of,’ he continued. “I wish also to apologise to the many people who I’ve let down by remaining silent when my voice needed to be heard,’ he wrote.
Tech Central also reported that three SABC journalists have taken their boss, CEO Hlaudi Motsoeneng, to task over his censorship of the news and for his decision to suspend three of their colleagues.
In a strongly worded letter addressed to Motsoeneng, Busisiwe Ntuli (executive producer: Special Assignment), Krivani Pillay (executive producer: SAfm current affairs) and Jacques Steenkamp (senior investigative reporter), have demanded a meeting to discuss recent developments at the SABC.
“Our newsroom has become a source of derision, despair and criticism from the people that we are fundamentally accountable to, the public at large,’ the trio write in the letter, which is dated Sunday, 26 June.
In their letter, Ntuli, Pillay and Steenkamp say that the recent decisions to ban the reading of newspaper headlines on air and to can The Editors show on SAfm amount to “censorship, unless reasonable and professional explanations can be advanced within the framework of the editorial policy and our obligation to serve the public.’
Tech Central reports that the three journalists have also taken strong exception to the suspension of three of their colleages for “expressing their right to freedom of expression by simply debating and assessing the newsworthiness of events as expected during editorial meetings.’
The Media Workers Association of South Africa (MWASA) said in a statement, “The news of the resignation by Matthews is a sad indictment on the failures of South Africa to meet the aspirations of our deserving people.”
“We should expect a difficult day at the office now that it is time for the ‘Hlaudexit’. Protests, petitions, courts and parliamentary debates have chipped away at Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s stay in and benefit from ill-gotten office. He will not go down alone. Hlaudi Motsoeneng and his group executive committee, the Maguvhe-led board and minister Faith Muthambi, and Portfolio Committee on Communications, must go.”
“MWASA has again been purged by the SABC for refusing to trade in its independence and it has its relationship officially terminated as at end June 2016. The Union will be proceeding shortly with strike action centered at one of the many abusive Temporary Employment Service providers at the SABC.”