ANC attempts to recapture SABC – Phumzile van Damme

DA MP says party is bullying public broadcaster to publish election campaign propaganda

ANC attempts to recapture the SABC for election campaign propaganda

2 April 2019

The ANC is fighting hard to recapture the SABC before the upcoming elections and is abusing its power to bully the public broadcaster to once again become a mouthpiece for the ANC. The DA has discovered that at a recent SABC radio awards ceremony ANC bigwig Basikipo Makamu was given the platform to urge attendants to vote for the ANC in the upcoming election.

Makamu, the MEC of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Limpopo and Deputy Provincial Secretary, appeared at Munghana Lonene FM’s Xitsonga Music Awards 2019 on 30 March 2019. The awards ceremony was not a political event.

The DA will therefor lodge a complaint at ICASA against the SABC for violating ICASA’s “Regulations on Party Election Broadcasts, Political Advertisements, The Equitable Treatment of Political Parties by Broadcasting Licensees an Other Matters”

The regulations outline how broadcasts should be handled during the election period. Munghana Lonene’s actions are a clear violation of the regulations especially section 4.3 in Annexure B. This section states that “during the election period, broadcasting service licensees must recognise that government officials are in a position to use the incumbency to advance their electoral prospects… broadcasting service licensees need to ensure that […] they do not afford the policies of incumbent parties’ greater legitimacy than they would afford those policies or actions if the party was not in government.

Even if Makamu was invited in her capacity as MEC, a music awards ceremony falls outside the scope of her portfolio. On the day ANC in Limpopo proudly proclaimed on their Facebook page: “Our Deputy Provincial Secretary Cde Basikopo Makamu addressing hundreds of people who are attending Munghana Lonene FM’s Xitsonga Music Awards and Festival in Giyani urging them to exercise their democratic right to vote and #VoteANC8May.”

The radio station clearly allowed the ANC to abuse their awards ceremony for the ANC to campaign, in violation of the ICASA regulations.

The DA further calls for the SABC to investigate the matter and to suspend the station manager, Lawrence Ubisi pending the outcome. Ubisi, is a known lackey of Hlaudi Motsoeneng and has proven himself to be part of the ANC's propaganda machine.

Last year the station dropped prominent political commentator, Prince Mashele, from its line-up after Ubisi allegedly instructed a presenter to do so. Senior ANC leaders had allegedly called Ubisi privately to complain about Mashele.

The ANC has made it quite clear that it intends to re-capture the SABC as indicated in reports this week that ANC secretary general Ace Magashule and SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande both indicated it’s time that the ruling party take control of the SABC.

Why do you call yourself the governing alliance when you are not in charge of the public broadcaster?” Magashule reportedly said. According to the report in The Citizen Nzimande responded “let’s put pressure, comrade Ace, on the SABC.”

It therefore raises suspicions that President Cyril Ramaphosa is deliberately stalling the appointment of 8 new board members, leaving the SABC with an inquorate board to allow the ANC to infringe on the editorial independence of the public broadcaster.

Now, more than ever, we need a competent board to stand up to the governing party. We call on the SABC to investigate the matter regarding Mungana Lonene and continue to stand as a bulwark against any attempts by the ANC to infringe on its independence.

Issued by Phumzile Van DammeDA Shadow Minister of Communications, 2 April 2019