SABC editors letter to Hlaudi Motsoeneng

Busisiwe Muli, Krivani Pillay, Jacques Steenkamp write to express concern, request clarity

For Attention:

Chief Officer
Mr. Hlaudi Motsoeneng
SABC Radio Park Cnr. Henley & Artillery Park

26 June 2016

cc. Jimi Matthews Acting-Group CEO
Simon Tebele - Acting-GE News
Sebolelo Ditlhakanyane — GM Radio News
Nyana Molete — Acting GM TV
Angie Kapelianis - National Editor Radio CA
Nothando Maseko — Acting Head TV CA
Zohsa Saab National Bulletin Editor

Request for editorial policy clarity and concern over unfair suspensions

We, the undersigned, write this letter to you to register our displeasure and increasing concern the recent developments occurring in the SABC newsroom. Our newsroom has become a source of derision, despair and criticism from the people that we are fundamentally accountable to, the public at large.

In particular, the developments of the past week have heightened this sense of fear, lack of clarity about our journalistic responsibility and staff morale our newsrooms, because of what we consider to be normal editorial engagements and the usual contestation of ideas during a diary meeting. In addition, we are of the view that the recent decisions to remove the newspaper slots and The Editors on SAFM'S AM Live amounts to what we consider censorship, unless reasonable and professional explanations can be advanced within the framework of our editorial policy and our obligation to serve the public.

As seasoned journalists within the SABC, we maintain that the reasons given for these sudden decisions contradict our governing polices and legislation, namely the revised SABC Editorial Code, the South African Broadcasting Act and the South African Constitution.

As journalists having to operationalise the policies of this public institution, which is important for the promotion of our democracy, we feel aggrieved that the image of our institution and our journalistic integrity continues to be compromised by unconstitutional pronouncements that erode the credibility of the SABC and the journalistic integrity of all of us who work for it.

Furthermore, we wish to register our deep concern for our colleagues who have been suspended for expressing their right to freedom of expression by simply debating and assessing the newsworthiness of events as expected, during editorial meetings. As such, we view the suspensions of Thandeka Gqubule, Foeta Krige and Suna Venter as acts of victimisation. An editorial meeting is to debate, deliberate, argue and find consensus on news stories. However, based on the recent developments, it seems that this is no longer allowed during editorial line talks — a situation that we believe needs to be challenged.

We are ethically and legally bound by the provisions Of the South African Constitution, in particular section 161A, Chapter Two in the Bill of Rights. Likewise we are bound by the Broadcasting Act and the SABC's mandate from the South African public.

We are shocked by the latest pronouncements that fundamentally erode the right of the public to know the whole story about the developments in their communities and to display such stories in a responsible manner, as has been done as per the ICASA and BCCSA requirements. These pronouncements effectively render our newsrooms incapable of providing compelling audio visual content that educates and informs the public and to disseminate balanced and accurate information.

We, the undersigned, therefore request an urgent meeting with the COO to gain clarity and resolve the above-indicated matters. Our primary interest is to clarify the confusion and find a lasting solution that will also provide guidelines on all issues editorial. Lastly, we hope that this will also restore our public image and uphold our integrity in the eyes of those we are meant to serve.

Yours sincerely
Busisiwe Muli
Executive Producer. Special Assignment

Krivani Pillay Executive Producer
SAFM Current Affairs

Jacques Steenkamp
Senior Investigative Reporter