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DA hails ‘victory for freedom of expression’

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IOL pic apr17 helen zille blue da poster in background

INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille File photo: Dumisani Sibeko

Johannesburg -

The DA’s election adverts will be aired by the SABC following a hearing by the Complaints and Compliance Committee, the Democratic Alliance said on Wednesday.

“The SABC's revised position on this matter is a victory for freedom of expression and political activity, albeit a temporary one,” DA leader Helen Zille said in a statement.

A hearing by the committee on the DA's advertisement complaint case against the SABC was postponed on Wednesday night, as the SABC had hired a new legal team, CCC chairman Wandile Tutani told those present at the Icasa headquarters in Sandton, north of Johannesburg.

The new team would have to investigate the facts of the case, and once they had made a conclusion on the matter, they would decide whether it would be taken further.

The Democratic Alliance accepted the postponement on condition that the party's six adverts be aired with immediate effect.

“The SABC's newly appointed legal team wrote to our legal representatives today requesting more time to prepare an affidavit so that it could answer the case at a mutually agreed date,” said Zille.

“The DA accepted this on the basis that it would mean the immediate resumption of our advertisements on the public broadcaster.”

Terry Motau, for the SABC, confirmed that the public broadcaster would flight all six of the party's adverts on air with immediate effect.

One television advert and five radio ads were pulled off air after being flighted for two days on the April 8 and 9.

The party laid a complaint with Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) on Saturday after the SABC failed to broadcast its election advertisement.

The “Ayisafani” TV advert was pulled off the air last week, along with five radio advertisements.

The advert shows the DA's Gauteng premier candidate and spokesman, Mmusi Maimane, standing in front of a mirror talking about the current state of the country. He says life today is better than it was 20 years ago and gives credit to great leaders who he believes have taken the country forward.

“But since 2008 we've seen President Jacob Zuma's ANC. An ANC that is corrupt. An ANC for the connected few. An ANC that is taking us backwards. An ANC where more than 1.4 million people have lost jobs.” Maimane then asks Zuma where the jobs are.

The SABC did not broadcast the advertisement (and five radio adverts), and gave the DA a letter. In it, SABC acting group CEO Tian Olivier informed the party that it would not be able to broadcast the adverts on radio or television on four grounds:

- The Icasa regulations on political advertising state clearly that there may not be incitement of violence;

- That the Electoral Code of Conduct includes a clause prohibiting the publication of false information about other candidates or parties;

- That the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa did not permit attacking another product to promote its own; and that

- The SABC would not permit personal attacks on any party member or leader by any other party, as was being done in the DA's advert in respect of Zuma.

The SABC stood by its decision. It said the party could submit an amended version of the advertisement.

The party said it would continue to defend the advert.

“We maintain that the banning of the Ayisafani advertisements was unlawful and unconstitutional,” said Zille.

“No amount of further preparation on the part of the SABC's legal team will change that. We stand ready to defend our advertisements at a future hearing.”

She said the advert would air on SABC and other channels.

“This includes social media, where our Youtube video has gone viral as a result of the SABC’s ban.”

The CCC - established in terms of the Icasa Act, is an independent statutory body empowered to adjudicate, hear and make a finding on all matters referred to it, not only by the authority, but also by the public. - Sapa


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