The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has once again found itself in the midst of controversy, this time facing allegations of not being impartial in allowing all political parties in the country the same opportunity to share their views as they do for the ruling party.
The Democratic Alliance’s Shadow Minister of Communication, Phumzile Van Damme, on Wednesday, issued a scathing statement against the SABC, after receiving written confirmation from the broadcaster that it will not be airing the DA leader, Mmusi Maimane’s statement on the economy and land expropriation without compensation.
The DA Shadow Minister of Communication called the SABC’s explanation for not airing the statement “disingenuous” and accused the public broadcaster of choosing the “Hlaudi Motsoeneng-esque route of engaging in litigation”.
The matter that is causing so much consternation follows a written response from the SABC’s Group Executive News and Current Affairs, Phathiswa Magopeni, who said that since the DA had “reported the matter to the BCCSA its obligations in terms of s13(1) are rendered moot”.
“This was the new SABC management and board’s first opportunity to truly display its independence, and it has failed miserably and balked to Luthuli House by denying opposition parties airtime as is required by s31(1) of the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) Code of Conduct,” Van Damme said.
“The DA reporting the matter to the BCCSA, did not in any way absolve the SABC from fulfilling its obligation in terms of the Code of Conduct. It had the opportunity to act in good faith, and resolve the matter by giving the DA, and indeed, other political parties represented in Parliament, the opportunity to state its views like it did for the President of the ANC,” Van Damme further argued.
Van Damme said that the party has written to the BCCSA to make a ruling, urging the BCCSA to rule “in a manner that will set a precedent for broadcasters that willingly disobey its Code of Conduct”.