In the past, the SABC was always a propaganda machine of the apartheid government. The ruling National Party always deployed loyalists to the SABC. Their job was to make sure South Africans only saw and heard what the apartheid leaders wanted them to.
That was one of the reasons so many people got involved in the struggle. They wanted freedom to get all the information they needed to make decisions. They wanted freedom of speech and debate. They wanted democracy!
And that struggle triumphed. In 1994 the SABC was also liberated – from the grip of apartheid information control and censorship.
The SABC is a public organisation — owned by the public, by all of us, and paid for with our taxes. That means it must serve us all. It must not serve any politician or any single political party.
It must do what the Constitution and the Bill of Rights require it to do, not what the ruling party instructs it to do. The law requires that the public broadcaster be “independent, fair and unbiased”.
The SABC is failing that test dismally. And what makes it even worse is that they are undermining our democratic constitution by doing so. The SABC allowing itself, once again, to become the tool of the ruling political party, which is desperate to protect its corrupt leader, Jacob Zuma.
As ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe said yesterday: President Zuma must be protected at all costs because he is the “symbol” of the ANC. The SABC is falling into line with this instruction and is therefore defending Jacob Zuma.
Last week we launched a TV advert called ‘ANC Ayisafani’ – ‘the ANC is not the same anymore’.
Our advert was designed to show how the ANC has changed over the last five years under President Jacob Zuma. It is no longer a party of democracy and of the Constitution. It has become a party that only exists to protect President Zuma and those well connected few who owe their positions, their tenders and their contracts and their wealth, to him.
The SABC’s censorship proves our point. The ANC is in a panic. Their support, particularly in Gauteng, is plummeting, because the DA’s campaign has been so effective. So the ANC complained to the SABC. And the SABC decided to stop flighting the DA’s campaign. This once again proves our point: ANC Ayisafani! But tragically the SABC remains the same as always: His Master’s Voice.
The SABC’s decision to censor the ‘ANC Ayisafani’ advert is a direct attack on democracy.
It is the SABC going back to doing its apartheid job: do what the ruling party says, not what the Constitution says.
One of the DA’s main functions is to defend the Constitution. We will not allow this decision to stand.
We will ensure that everyone in South Africa knows that the SABC is preventing citizens from knowing the truth about Jacob Zuma’s ANC.
They’ve censored the advert because every word of it is true, and that terrifies them.
They’ve censored the advert because they know what a powerful impact it is having and that terrifies them even more.
They censored the advert because Jacob Zuma’s ANC refuses to take responsibility for the president’s actions.
And who took the direct decision to censor the advert?
According to reports, the decision was taken by SABC’s Chief Operating Officer, Hlaudi Motseneng.
In February, the Public Protector found that he had lied about his qualifications. He was also implicated for abuse of power, maladministration and retribution against former employees who testified against him years ago.
It is easy to see the direct link between him taking the DA’s advert off the air and him keeping his job. That’s how it works in Jacob Zuma’s ANC. Deployed cadres defend the “big man” who in turn defends them — at the cost of the people.
What was so offensive about the DA advert anyway? The reasons the SABC has given are absurd.
The first reason is that showing a picture of a policeman shooting at people incites violence against police.
Do they seriously think anyone is going to believe them?
The fact that police shoot citizens is a fact and people see that every day. It has been broadcast on the news before. So why censor a DA ad which contains a photo of a policeman shooting protestors at Bekkersdal?
The second reason they give is that the Nkandla scandal is not yet proven.
Maybe Hlaudi Motsoeneng doesn’t watch the SABC news!
Or maybe he, like Stone Sizane, did not read the Public Protector’s report before commenting on it.
Maybe he missed a recent High Court Judgement that said it was “fair comment” to say our president had stolen public money for Nkandla.
Everyone knows exactly how much public money was spent building the President’s private palace – R246 million. It is a fact. No one, not even the ANC, is denying that. As the courts would say, it is “common cause”.
So everyone accepts that the scandal happened. It does not have to be proved again in court.
The third reason they give is that you shouldn’t advertise one product by criticising another, according to the Advertising Standards Authority. But their code covers routine product advertising — not election campaigns. Election advertising was deliberately excluded from the ASA’s purview. The ASA code cannot over-rule the constitution which permits freedom of speech, including criticism, especially when the future of the country is at stake. We are not advertising washing powder.
And in any event, the DA is not inventing spurious or gratuitous criticisms. We’re stating facts.
And their final reason is the most revealing. They don’t think we should be talking specifically about one individual: President Jacob Zuma.
That’s their real purpose. To protect President Zuma from any accountability for the things he has done – for his failure to chart a clear policy direction, for his failure to grow the economy and create jobs, and for his lack of ethical leadership. As the public broadcaster, the SABC should be exposing all these things, not covering them up! The SABC is acting just like the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) that is also supposed to be independent, but that protected the President by withdrawing 763 counts of corruption, money laundering, fraud etc against him in 2009 — without giving us reasons.
He will not take responsibility for anything. And so his party and their deployed cadres in many public institutions (including the SABC) must shield him from public scrutiny.
Because the public – the voters – are President Zuma’s greatest fear. You have the power to force him to take responsibility and accept accountability for what he has done. Because you have the power to fire President Zuma.
You have the power to vote against more corruption, more crony enrichment and more police brutality.
You have the power to elect a government that will give leadership, and grow the economy to create real jobs. Not just talk about it while stealing the people’s money.
No matter what the SABC does, they cannot take this power from you.
The DA is going to act swiftly to have the SABC’s censorship decision overturned. We will approach ICASA today to overturn this censorship.
We are confident they will do so immediately. But if not, we will not hesitate in going to court to defend our right to speak truth to power, and the voters’ right to hear differing views in a democratic election.
Now let me speak directly to President Jacob Zuma: The DA is not going away! You should know by now that we are not easily intimidated. We will not buckle to your dirty tricks. The SABC cannot protect you from the voters.