ICASA ruling victory for press freedom and Constitution – Phumzile Van Damme

DA says this beginning of fixing mess created by ANC appointed Hlaudi

ICASA ruling a victory for press freedom and the Constitution

11 July 2016

The DA welcomes the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) ruling today against SABC COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s decision to ban airing of footage of violent protests on SABC TV channels.

In its ruling, ICASA’s Complaints and Compliance Committee (CCC) ordered the SABC to immediately withdraw the decision not to cover violent protests, and gave the SABC 7 days to respond to whether it will comply with the order.

The DA strongly encourages the SABC to immediately implement the order, and not waste anymore public funds on frivolous litigation.

ICASA’s ruling is a victory for press freedom, and in line with ICASA’s own regulations which require that the SABC:

- report news truthfully, accurately and fairly;

- that the news must be presented in the correct context and in a fair manner, without international or negligent departure from facts, whether by distortion, exaggeration or misrepresentation, material omissions or summarisation.

Today’s ruling by ICASA is the beginning in fixing the mess created by ANC-appointed Hlaudi Motsoeneng who has been unrelenting in his crusade to turn the SABC into an output station for the ANC's sunshine news.

Change is urgently needed at the SABC, and the DA believes the following steps need to be implemented as a matter of urgency:

  1. Suspend SABC COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng and institute an independent and impartial disciplinary inquiry into Motsoeneng’s fitness to hold office;

  2. Suspend the SABC’s non-executive board members and Chairperson, Mbulayeni Maguvhe for failing in its duties to hold the SABC’s management accountable;

  3. Suspended Acting CEO, and CFO of the SABC, James Aguma for providing financial backing for Motsoeneng’s censorship project;

  4. Drop the disciplinary charges against the SABC staffers suspended for speaking out against Motsoeneng;

  5. Advertise the positions of SABC COO and CFO requiring suitably qualified and impartial broadcasting professionals to head the SABC;

  6. Allow the Portfolio Committee on Communications to interview candidates to serve as an Interim board until a new board is appointed;

  7. Provide full disclosure for the reasons for the suspension of SABC CEO, Frans Matlala in November 2015;

  8. Reverse the approval of the SABC’s revised editorial policy, and conduct public consultation. It is the revised policy which gives SABC COO total control over the public broadcaster;

  9. Drop the SCA petition appealing the Western Cape High Court’s decision. The court had originally found that Motsoeneng’s appointment SABC COO was irrational and unlawful and thus set it aside;

  10. Implement the remedial action required by the Public Protector;

  11. Reverse the ban on the reading of newspaper headlines on SABC radio and TV stations;

  12. Reverse the canning of “The Editors” on SAFM;

  13. Reverse the canning of “Kommentaar”on RSG;

  14. Commit to providing equitable and fair coverage of all political parties on SABC stations ahead of the local government election;

  15. Fire Faith Muthambi for failing to conduct proper oversight over the SABC.

The DA continues in it's commitment to restoring the integrity of the SABC, and these are only the first steps that need to be taken to fix the public broadcaster; much more needs to be done.

The SABC can be the public broadcaster envisioned by the drafters of our Constitution, representing the cultures, religions and political views of all South Africa.

Issued by Phumzile Van Damme, DA Shadow Minister of Communications, 11 July 2016