Muthambi defends SABC news viewsComment on this story
Johannesburg - The SABC broadcasts a variety of news that helps deepen democracy, Communications Minister Faith Muthambi said in an opinion piece in The New Age on Wednesday.
“On the news front, the Broadcasting Act commits the SABC to a plurality of views and a variety of news, information, and analysis from a South African point of view,” she said.
“The corporation's content must allow citizens to exercise their rights and reflect the rich diversity of a united society.”
She said the broadcaster played a crucial development role in the country.
“The public broadcaster empowers citizens to interact better with the institutions of society and deepen the democratisation of the country.
“It ensures that citizens can make responsible and informed choices.”
Muthambi said in the past 20 years, the SABC had to undergo drastic change from an “apartheid mouthpiece” to “the voice of the people”.
“The SABC has in many respects helped to move us closer towards a national identity built on mutual respect, tolerance, and acceptance,” she said.
Last month, the Economic Freedom Fighters accused the SABC of withdrawing its promise to provide live coverage of the party's one-year anniversary in Soweto.
The party accused the SABC of pulling out at the 11th hour.
SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said at the time he was not aware of the matter.
The EFF said it seemed the broadcaster was only committed to events held by the ruling African National Congress.
“Its major programmess only cater for the ruling party,” EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said at the time.
“The SABC is supposed to be a public broadcaster, and serve the interests of the entire citizenry equitably.”
In the run-up to the May election, the Democratic Alliance accused the broadcaster of bias for refusing it live coverage but devoting a two-hour live broadcast to the ANC's final election rally in Johannesburg.
The DA also took the SABC to the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) over an advertisement that was not aired.
Icasa upheld the SABC's banning of the DA's Ayisafani advert, which contained a photo of a police officer firing rubber bullets.
The SABC banned the advertisement because it said it incited violence.
Icasa ruled that the offending part of the advert be removed.
In recent months, Muthambi and the SABC board have also come under heavy criticism over the permanent appointment of Hlaudi Motsoeneng as chief operations officer.
In February, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela released a report on Motsoeneng, while he was acting COO. She found that his salary increased from R1.5 million to R2.4m in one year, that he had purged senior staff, and misrepresented his qualifications - that he had passed matric - to the SABC. At the time, Madonsela recommended that a new COO be appointed to the SABC within 90 days.
In early July, Muthambi announced Motsoeneng's appointment, saying the decision was taken following a recommendation by the SABC board. She said he was cleared of all wrongdoing by a legal firm before being appointed permanently.
The DA launched a high court bid to have the appointment set aside.
Muthambi has filed court papers opposing it. - Sapa