The ANC has finally broken its silence about the recent shenanigans at the SABC.
ANC Chief Whip, Jackson Mthembu read out an official statement at a media briefing at the party’s headquarters in Johannesburg this afternoon.
“The African National Congress has noted with grave concern recent developments at the South African Broadcasting Corporation… and widespread condemnation of policy decisions… which borders on censorship ” Mthembu said.
Mthembu said the ANC has referred all related matters to the SABC board and Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi, as they are in the best position to comment on the issues.
“The SABC doesn’t report to the ANC, we’d like to make that emphasis again. It was our hope that by now these issues would be attended to and resolved,” he said. “We still believe it is not too late for them to do so.”
Mthembu went on to say the ANC does however need to clarify its position on the SABC adding that the party has always upheld the principle of media freedom and freedom of expression.
“We have jealously guarded the right of freedom of expression and have never hesitated to speak in favour of media freedom wherever and whenever allegations of media censorship of any kind were raised,” he said.
“Any policy changes or editorial decisions by the SABC, that in any way limit these freedoms, can never be sanctioned by the ANC. Nor do they represent views and aspirations of the African National Congress,” Mthembu added.
According to Mthembu, the ANC stands opposed to any actions that infringe on South African’s rights to hear and see what they want and any infringement on journalists rights to do their jobs.
ANC does not condone violent protest footage ban
“While the ANC doesn’t glorify violence, the decision if [sic] the SABC to desist from showing images of the destruction of public property has not been consulted with or condoned by the African National Congress,” he said.
“We’re not saying, because we were not consulted, that is the only issues. This is worrying as it amounts to a change in the policy position of the governing party… If somewhere mid-stream you want to change [editorial] policy, you don’t consult with us, that also shows scant disregard for the governing party.”
Mthembu said the ANC and Muthambi wasn’t engaged on the merits and reasoning for the policy change.
“People of South Africa need to be shown the [protest] images and that’s our view. When you don’t show them those images, that amounts to censorship of what people can see or not see. You can’t take that decision, that decision can be taken on the people of South Africa” he said.
“No one sitting some cosy office can decide and be that arrogant and decided what it is that people can see or not see… If you put a ban on coverage, you are in conflict with South African constitution.”
Mthembu said although the ANC is against burning public property, South Africa needs to find ways to engage protestors and steer them away from displaying violence.
You can watch the full briefing below.