State security instilling fear among journalists at SABC – COPE

Party says it is time for urgent united action at broadcaster

State security instilling fear among journalists at SABC

28 June 2016

Both the ANC and Hlaudi Motsoeneng have been conspiring to keep news of municipalities and protests out of the public arena. The ANC is feeling threatened like never before. Therefore the ANC is keeping Hlaudi Motsoeneng in office in open contempt of court and in violation of the rule of law. That is in itself a constitutional breach. Furthermore, censoring the news, to serve a party political end, conflicts with the ethos of the Constitution. No wonder we are witnessing a palace revolt because the situation at the SABC has become toxic, corrosive and untenable.

COPE has now been reliably informed that journalist's communication devices have been tapped by the State Security Agency. According to our sources in the SABC, this activity has been escalated to unprecedented proportions. They tell us that the incident which took place in KZN SABC offices, when intelligence operatives visited staffers, is now also happening at Auckland Park.

This allegation is not farfetched. It is part of the agenda to control the flow of information. The Secrecy Bill is now being brought in through the back door.

A climate of fear has now gripped all honest and professional journalists.

Hlaudi Motsoeneng has to go immediately. He is violating all of the cherished principles of journalism and has become a huge liability to our constitutional democracy. He is also violating the rights of all the staffers at SABC and is inflicting on them intolerable stresses through ordering them to do what they are ashamed of doing.

Such is the dictatorship at the SABC, with the connivance of the ANC, that Motsoeneng wants fiction to override reality. His order that no negative coverage of Mr Jacob Zuma be broadcast because he “deserves a certain degree of respect as president of the country”, is irrational, arrogant and self-serving.

The resignation of Jimi Matthews has been condemned by most political parties, but not by the ANC. It is not surprising to us to see the ANC slamming Jimi Matthews instead for using the media to announce his resignation.

Mr Zuma’s capture of the ANC has allowed for state capture by his friends to take place and the capture of state institutions, such as the SABC, to be orchestrated by his proxies. Those who show dissent are axed by Motsoeneng with the approval of the ANC.

So far two senior editorial members of Radio Sonder Grense (RSG), Thandeka Gqubule, executive editor Foeta Krige, and senior journalist Suna Venter, SABC business editor Thandeka Gqubule, Jacques Steenkamp, Krivani Pillay, Busisiwe Ntuli and Cobus Bester have been suspended.

Jimi Matthews who had submitted an affidavit to the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) defending the broadcaster’s decision to ban coverage of violent protests now ruefully accepts that he was complicit in some of the bad decisions being taken by Motsoeneng. He owned up and quit.

Staff at the SABC are threatening a news blackout. Others are approaching the Constitutional Court. The time has come for all South Africans to make common cause and press through heightened activism for Motsoeneng to go. With him should go Faith Muthambi.

As in Animal Farm, everything that was once despised in the old order is finding new life in the present rule of Jacob Zuma and the ANC.

We the people of South Africa are being denuded of our constitutional and democratic rights. This is the moment we should seize to wrest back our democratic rights and to safeguard our Constitution. COPE will seek to work with all democratic agencies to see the back of Hlaudi Motsoeneng and the others who have sought to run the SABC as their grandmothers’ spaza shop.

COPE will intensify its call for the suspension of TV licenses payments as a form of protest. We will also embark on a process of engaging with commercial advertisers to suspend their advertisements on all SABC platforms as a form of protest. Business must have a conscience by promoting and protecting the constitution of the land. Lastly, we will request the Inspector General of Intelligence to investigate the alleged role of State Security in this illegal activity,

Finally we should all stand with Lukhanyo Calata, the son of a great freedom fighter who gave his life for our freedom.

Issued by Dennis Bloem, COPE spokesperson, 28 June 2016