LESS than 24 hours after the SABC canned a discussion on Mangaung on MetroFM, SAfm host Siki Mgabadeli was told to cut her show on the ANC’s elective conference, not to take calls or SMSes and to get the ANC involved halfway through the debate.
But when ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu was contacted, he refused to get involved, saying it was unprofessional to add the ANC as an afterthought.
On Tuesday evening MetroFM Talk host Sakina Kamwendo, who had planned to speak to three journalists about how the media had covered the run-up to the Mangaung conference, was prevented from going ahead with her discussion.
On Wednesday, Mgabadeli ran into trouble with her weekly 10am slot, Workers on Wednesday, which usually includes union representatives and analysts.
This topic was what Mangaung would mean for workers. The debate featured Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini, Oupa Lehulere from Khanya College and labour analyst Terry Bell.
But it is understood that just minutes before Mgabadeli began the debate she was told to cut the show and not take calls and SMSes.
Mgabadeli apparently refused and said she would either do the entire hour or walk out. The show went ahead as planned.
A source close to the show, who spoke to The Sunday Independent on condition of anonymity, said the instruction to cut the show came because the ANC was not on the show. “But it’s a workers’ show. Cosatu is in the alliance. Why would you also need the ANC?”
According to the source, during the show a producer was asked to call Mthembu, who refused to be part of the show at such a late stage.
Friday was Mgabadeli’s last day at SAfm. She resigned last month. Contacted yesterday, she declined to comment.
Mthembu confirmed that he was called during the show and declined to be part of it.
“It can’t be professional to call us as an afterthought,” he said.
Mthembu added that “since the show was about the ANC conference it should have had someone from the ANC… We are workers too.”
SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago denied that there was an instruction to cut the show and not to take calls or SMSes.
He, however, confirmed that there was an instruction to call the ANC and that Mthembu said he could not participate.
“People are trying to create a storm out of everything we do. The programme went ahead. It was an issue of balance. You can’t talk about them and not have them on the show,” said Kganyago.
But it’s not the first time that Mgabadeli has come under fire.
Earlier this year, the wife of a senior politician allegedly complained about Mgabadeli only reading out anti-Zuma SMSes.
Management had not approached Mgabadeli, but it is understood that the message filtered down to her producer.
Mgabadeli apparently said she would not censor what people thought.
Kganyago denied complaints about Mgabadeli not reading SMSes, saying the matter had been raised by SACP leader Blade Nzimande publicly.
Last month Nzimande accused the SABC, through its radio station SAfm, of joining the “posture” of the South African media industry that actively opposed the tripartite alliance and President Jacob Zuma’s government.
The station aired only SMSes which called ANC leaders “hooligans”, Nzimande said at the SACP’s conference of commissars.
He said he had sent SMSes, but that they were ignored.
Meanwhile, SABC head of news Phil Molefe fought his suspension from the public broadcaster in the Johannesburg High Court this week.
Molefe was suspended in April after an interview with axed youth league leader Julius Malema was flighted without a representative from the ANC on air to give their side of the story and when he later refused to give group CEO Lulama Mokhobo the daily news diary.
Molefe’s lawyer, advocate Dali Mpofu, argued that it compromised editorial independence to give Mokhobo the daily diary.
Molefe had allegedly said that he and Mokhobo should discuss the matter further and that they should get a legal opinion, but was charged with gross insubordination.
Molefe wants the court to lift his suspension. Judgment in the matter was reserved on Friday.