Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. File picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)
Durban - Public Protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane said while the media was used to peddle propaganda in some instances, closing down Sekunjalo Independent Media (SIM) should not be allowed, as that would narrow the number of media voices at a critical time.

Mkhwebane was speaking in Durban on Wednesday where she engaged political and civic organisations as part of her office’s outreach to communities it served.

Responding to questions posed by the public, which ranged from the issue of the Constitution, the Reserve Bank and her relationship with government departments, Mkhwebane said the media was a powerful tool.

On matters affecting SIM (which owns Independent Media) Mkhwebane said it was facing a “racially motivated” move as the Public Investment Corporation sought to liquidate it over monies borrowed in 2013.

“I think the media is a very powerful tool which unfortunately is used to propagate or as a propaganda tool."

“I think you have seen how, somebody mentions how the media operates, they only repeat the same lie until people believe it.”

She said it would be suicidal for South Africa’s news media space to have a select few media houses controlling the narrative.

Speaking at the same event, Themba Godi, the president of the African People Convention (APC), echoed Mkhwebane’s view saying media houses that were always ready to provide a contrary narrative should be supported.

“They want to control the narrative. So media (houses) that do not follow the script must be dealt with so that they are only left with those newspapers who are always out of order.

“You know the media is very important, it can make the innocent look guilty and guilty look innocent

“So it is important that as we protect the public protector, we protect Independent Media so that we can get stories, from all sides, we are informed and not be straitjacketed,” Godi said.

The move by the PIC to liquidate SIM has been slammed in many fronts with critics saying it is aimed at silencing the media company for going against the media tide and reporting on stories others chose to ignore.

When the news broke in the early days of November, Takudzwa Hove, the spokesperson for SIM, said the PIC’s application was frivolous as it appeared to have intentionally omitted certain factual and legal considerations relevant to the matter.

Hove said it was puzzling that Dr Iqbal Survé, the chairman of Sekunjalo was cited as a party to the proceedings even though no relief is claimed against him.

“The PIC’s application smacks of malice and designed to embarrass the Sekunjalo Group and Dr Survé,” Hove said.

Political Bureau