SA President Cyril Ramaphosa. FILE PHOTO: ANA

CAPE TOWN - The DA on Tuesday accused the SABC of allowing itself to be abused by the ruling party after it broadcast President Cyril Ramaphosa's controversial announcement last week on changing the constitution on land expropriation as a government address while he was speaking in his capacity as leader of the ruling ANC.

"The DA can today reveal that the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) knew that the statement by President Cyril Ramaphosa on land expropriation without compensation was in his capacity as ANC president and not as the president of South Africa," DA spokeswoman on communications Phumzile van Damme said.

She questioned why the public broadcaster opted to bill the statement as an address to the nation when it knew that in fact it was of a party political nature.

Van Damme said the official opposition had also received reliable information that the Ramaphosa's address was "prepacked by the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) and distributed to a number of media houses". 

It was a further instance of the ruling party's abuse of the state institutions for party political purposes, she said.

Van Damme called on the SABC to say from whom it received Ramaphosa's statement and who made the decision to interrupt regular broadcasting to air it and to describe it as an address by the state president. She said it should also reveal who subsequently decided to describe it as a "special address" by the president, after the matter caused an outcry.

Ramaphosa announced that section 25 of the Constitution would be amended to allow land expropriation without compensation.

The decision has drawn heated criticism from the opposition, who accuse the president of tankering with property rights to reclaim political ground from the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

Analysts have said he jumped the gun by not first allowing a public consultation process to run its course.

Van Damme said the DA has sent a message from party leader Mmusi Maimane to the SABC and given it until midnight on Wednesday to air it, in the interests of fairness.

"It is against the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa’s (BCCSA) Code of Conduct for the public broadcaster to accept a packaged video from a political party, to interrupt normal programming to air the recording, and then deny opposition parties the opportunity to do the same.

"If the SABC is as impartial as they claim they will air the clip sent to them by the DA by midnight tomorrow."

African News Agency (ANA)