LGE2021: SABC must ensure equitable, fair and unbiased election coverage – Zakhele Mbhele

DA MP says broadcaster must resist any attempt by ANC to turn it into its mouthpiece

LGE2021: SABC must ensure equitable, fair and unbiased election coverage 

17 May 2021

The DA would support the argument for increased SABC coverage of party political activities and messaging ahead of the 2021 Local Government Elections (LGE). However, such coverage must be applied fairly, consistently and equitably to all political parties, in line with the principle of proportionality that is required and enshrined in law.

As South Africa enters a third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is every likelihood that this might place major restrictions on political activities and campaigning. The SABC, as the public broadcaster, has a vast footprint across the country and could therefore play a massive role in sharing the various offers of political parties.

The DA does however not support any undue or exclusive increased coverage for the ANC on the SABC. We have noted the report in the Sunday Times over the weekend that President Cyril Ramaphosa wants increased coverage for the ANC on the SABC ahead of 2021 Local Government Elections (LGE). According to the article, the comments formed part of the President’s speech, delivered during the ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting last week. 

The DA urges the SABC to guard against political influence and any attempt by the ANC to turn the public broadcaster into its mouthpiece. 

As a public broadcaster, the SABC is mandated to offer a diversity of views, information and analysis. It is bound by the law to ensure the provision of fair, equitable and transparent coverage. We further call on ICASA to, as a matter of priority keep a watchful eye on the SABC to ensure that the broadcaster does not move away from its public service broadcasting mandate due to pressure from the ANC. 

We need to protect the integrity of the SABC from any and all undue political influence, as we cannot allow the public broadcaster to take instructions from any political party.

Issued by Zakhele Mbhele, DA Shadow Minister of Communications & Digital Technologies, 17 May 2021