No news is SABC news
The wheels, rims and axles are flying off the SABC wagon as staff threaten a news blackout.
Senior SABC managers, including journalists, are seeking an urgent meeting with the public broadcaster’s board to discuss recent editorial decisions by chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng. Failure by the board to meet staff would result in a news blackout, staff warned. The proposed blackout follows yesterday’s resignation of the SABC’s acting CEO Jimi Matthews over what he called a “corrosive atmosphere”.
This morning more pressure will be exerted on Motsoeneng as the DA says it will picket outside SABC headquarters in Auckland Park demanding Motsoeneng vacate his office. The DA says Motsoeneng has proved he is not a fit and proper person to manage the SABC. SABC journalists have told The Times that Hlaudi rules like a dictator and that anyone who opposes him is axed. The proposed blackout would see staff come to work but doing nothing to get the news out.
Another senior news producer said they would fight to regain control and prove to the public that they were not all “captured”. “There are forces at play here and they are using Hlaudi to capture the SABC. We are going back to the old days and we will fight to the end to regain our editorial independence,” said a radio news producer, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of victimisation. SA National Editors’ Forum executive director Mathatha Tsedu said on possible blackouts: “Sanef has no view on the steps SABC staff would take. It’s a democratic country and they can do whatever they like.the staff are the ones in pain and in the middle of it and they know how to deal with it.”
Yesterday Matthews shocked the public when he said: “For months I have compromised values that I hold dear under the mistaken belief that I could be more effective inside the SABC than outside.What is happening at the SABC is wrong and I can no longer be a part of it.” The “corrosive atmosphere” is created by, among other things, Motsoeneng’s order that no images of violent protests be shown on TV news broadcasts. The blackouts are being contemplated after a letter was written by SABC executive producers Busisiwe Ntuli and Krivani Pillay and senior investigative journalist Jacques Steenkamp requesting a meeting with the board.