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Icasa buckles under DA pressure

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iol news pic James Selfe DA

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James Selfe is a Democratic Alliance member of Parliament. Picture: Damaris Helwig

Johannesburg - Watchdog body Icasa has caved in to the DA after the party resorted to court action over the SABC's pulling of an election advert, DA chairman James Selfe said on Tuesday.

He said the Democratic Alliance announced in the morning its intention to file an urgent High Court application.

It then received a letter from Icasa informing the party that a hearing on its complaint would be held at 6pm on Tuesday evening, Selfe said in a statement.

Earlier, the Independent Communications Authority of SA said it had referred the DA's complaint case to the Complaints and Compliance Committee.

“Following engagement with the parties, Icasa decided to refer the matter to the CCC on an urgent basis for adjudication,” it said in a statement.

Selfe said the DA intended to approach the High Court in Johannesburg for an urgent order which would compel Icasa to hear its complaint and to reach a decision without further delay.

He said Icasa was in violation of the regulations, which provided that it should reach a final determination on a complaint like theirs within 48 hours of receiving it. He said they had already missed it.

Icasa said it had not missed the deadline.

“The authority would like to make it clear that in referring the matter to the CCC on an urgent basis, it acted within the 48-hours timelines as required by the elections regulations.”

The CCC's public hearings would be held at Icasa's headquarters in Sandton.

The DA laid a complaint with Icasa on Saturday after the SABC failed to broadcast its election advertisement.

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

The advert in question 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 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 advert on radio or television as it incited violence. The SABC said the party could submit an amended version of the advertisement.

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.

Although the party was pleased that the matter would be heard urgently, court action was still an option, Selfe said.

“We are not withdrawing our court application before we get an indication at this evening’s meeting as to when Icasa will give a final decision.”

Sapa


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