SABC insults memory of Struggle

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Copy of Copy of ST SABC talk show_360 INLSA SABC acting chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng. Photo: Tiro Ramatlhatse

It is incredible just how soon we forget. How, as we focus on things that are important to us, we forget the bigger things that used to matter. The things that gifted us selfless souls, good wise men.

Janet Smith, one of our executive editors on The Star, yesterday took us back to “a fight that's never to be forgotten” by reminding us of the heroic feats of members of the Luthuli Detachment, the first unit of the ANC's Mkhonto we Sizwe.

Smith reminded us of members of MK who lie buried in various countries where they lost their lives as they battled to secure, for us, a just, democratic society.

She reminded us of Thomas Nkobi, Chris Hani and his guerillas. She, importantly, reminded us of Vuyisile Mini, a trade unionist who was among the first to be sentenced to death.

She reminded us what President Jacob Zuma said of Mini earlier this year: “He symbolized the determination and valour of the Luthuli Detachment when he refused to divulge details that could have compromised the members of the High Command, even if for him it meant death”.

It was people like Mini who sacrificed much for us to enjoy the freedom we enjoy today. They died doing what they knew was good for us. They stood up to the apartheid regime and died defending what was indeed a worthy cause. The nobility of the cause was matched only by their triumphant spirit and selflessness. How easily we forget them.

It is obvious that they hoped that eventually their comrades will live to see the fruits of freedom of which Solomon Mahlangu spoke of in the shadow of death. I am certain they believed that this democratic SA will be what they hoped for it to be.

Today though the nation is entranced by some, dare I say, foolish decisions taken by some managers at what is termed the Faulty Towers of the SABC.

This week, one Hlaudi Motsoeneng, acting chief operating officer for the public broadcaster, attempted to defend a decision to can a programme that was meant to discuss how - that being the operative word - the ANC was covered in the period leading to its elective conference in Mangaung next week.

Motsoeneng, in the SABC's defence, argues that there were only journalists from outside the SABC invited to discuss the matter. So what? Was it Plato who said wise men speak because they have something to say, fools because they have to say something?

Secondly, Motsoeneng told us, the ANC was not invited to the show to answer for itself. Other than this two, the rest of what he said is not worth a waste of ink.

Now, a discussion on how the ANC is portrayed is a media rather than a political discussion. You need media experts, the political editors who were invited, or even South African Editors Forum (Sanef).

In truth, it is either the coverage of the ANC was balanced or not, fair or not. If it is, well, the Sanef chair must accept the honours. If not, the Sanef chair must answer the question why editors are unfair to the ANC. The ANC, put plainly, is not being accused, it is the media that is.

To then say the ANC must be invited is to misread the debate. It is to display ignorance of things you should be in charge of. It is to speak because you have to say something. There are few things in life as irritating as having to report to someone to whom buffoonery is second nature.

When Sakina Kamwendo breaks down in tears on air because her boss is too thick to understand what is going on, you can't but feel pity. Pity for her, for the SABC and many other great people who are unfortunate to work there. Pity for our country that must be subjected to this misrule, to this ridiculous joke of having such a major corporation that serves such a critical democratic role being in the hands of people like Motsoeneng.

Others will say if he could spend a bit of time at our Adult Basic Education and at least try to obtain his Matric certificate, he might just be able to understand that it is not every discussion about Mangaung that needs the ANC there. Well, perhaps.

I have written about the wrong message the SABC is sending to all its interns who can only be accepted there if they have Matric and an undergraduate qualification. That point is made.

Even without formal education, many other people have done much and contributed positively to society.

But when it is evident that Motsoeneng has transmogrified our national asset, a national key point, into a bad joke, we owe it to those people who died in battle, the Vuyisile Minis, the Solomon Mahlangus, the Chris Hanis, the Oliver Tambos, to correct this.

Even ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe was quoted by Sam Mkokeli, one of the journalists banned by Motsoeneng's SABC, as saying: “It's their (SABC staff) stupid decision. Write that”. Motsoeneng must really feel stupid after that, if he gets it, that is.

Mini, who Zuma honoured, will most probably turn in his grave were he to realize that the ideals for which he died are being trampled by those bent on using the SABC as it was used by the apartheid lords who killed him.

The blood of Solomon Mahlangu was, as he wished, to “nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom,” but, sadly, the SABC remains in bondage, misled by Motsoeneng, bringing Kamwendo to tears.

As Zuma reminded us, Mini opted for death rather than compromise the High Command and thus derail the march to freedom. It was death rather than doing wrong. What is being done today in the name of the ANC makes my stomach shrivel. It's like making a wee on Mini's grave.

When senior ANC members lock their comrades in bunkers in order to rig elections, when they steal a province literally in order to secure positions for themselves, when they engage in fistfights, when they shoot at people like Kabelo Mataboge of North West ANC, you've got to wonder.

Wonder why these peace-time revolutionaries are allowed to kill off a proud movement of the people. Where are the Minis, the Hanis, the Tambos of today when we are saddled with the likes of Motsoeneng?

The SABC is too important an institution to be allowed to degenerate into a house of fools because good people have forgotten the “determination and valour” of people like Mini. Those who are too smart to lead, to borrow from Plato once more, are being punished by being governed by those who are dumber. Tragic, this. Very tragic.


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