Phumzile van Damme. Picture: Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA).
Phumzile van Damme. Picture: Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA).

DA demands answers on state security agency's involvement at SABC

By staff reporter Time of article published Nov 25, 2019

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Johannesburg - The DA is seeking answers from the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams on the reported involvement of the State Security Agency (SSA) at the SABC.

This comes after an article published by the Sunday Times claiming that the SABC had resolved to rope in the SSA to help "manage leaks" at the national broadcaster.

According to the publication, the SABC board also wanted the agency to help expose staff members behind the leaking of sensitive information to the media and public.

The embattled broadcaster has since dismissed these allegations as a "misrepresentation", adding that "no such decision" had been taken by the board.

The SABC however, conceded it had engaged with the SSA on a number of key issues, including the leaking of confidential information.

The DA's Phumzile van Damme in a statement confirmed the party would submit parliamentary questions to request the minutes of a SABC board meeting.

"We will also request a full account of when and how the SABC worked with the State Security Agency (SSA) following its admission of working with the agency to manage leaks.

"Whilst the SABC dismissed these allegations as 'misrepresentations', it has admitted to working with the SSA to manage leaks and therefore, by implication allowing it to spy on and track down staffers who 'leaked' information."

Van Damme said the claims were of a serious nature and were reminiscent "of the Motsoeneng-era campaign of a climate of fear and intimidation of staff by the board and management of the public broadcaster".

"The SABC simply cannot afford to revert back to that awful period in its history, where then too, the SSA was used to spy on staff to 'curb leaks'.

"The work of the SSA is not to engage in the internal squabbles of the public broadcaster, but to advance South Africa's national security interests. Should the SABC see it fit to investigate leaks it should use internal mechanisms not the SSA."

Van Damme concluded by saying that the DA would not allow for the SABC to revert into a space of fear and intimidation.

"We look forward to a full and detailed response to our parliamentary questions regarding the SSA’s involvement at the SABC from the minister."


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