* This story has been updated
CAPE TOWN - The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has suspended three permanent employees and unscheduled one freelancer following evidence showing that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent speech to the nation was "sabotaged".
The incident occurred on Thursday evening last week, when the SABC news channel aired an incorrect clip of Ramaphosa’s pre-recorded address to the nation on The Full View programme.
The SABC’s preliminary investigation into the incident has revealed that material for the 6pm broadcast of the President’s pre-recorded address was prepared in good time to ensure a clean transmission. However, unauthorised changes were effected without any communication to the desk. Consequently, the programme published and played the rehearsal clip from Ramaphosa’s recorded address to the nation, instead of the final version, according to SABC spokesperson Vuyo Mthembu.
The public broadcaster’s Group chief executive Madoda Mxakwe said: “The SABC will not tolerate any acts or omissions that bring the public broadcaster into disrepute, and undermine efforts to eradicate systemic problems of malfeasance and maladministration plaguing the institution.”
SABC News and Current Affairs Group executive Phathiswa Magopeni added: “Any employee found to be involved in clandestine activities aimed at undoing the ongoing work to restore the credibility of the public news service, will be dealt with accordingly within the confines of the SABC’s human resources and disciplinary policies.”
Magopeni further said “we are committed to doing everything possible to improve the quality of our work and elevate the standard of our performance. What happened on Thursday has no place at all in the public news service”.
According to the broadcaster, on that day, its news office in Parliament had earlier sent the feed capturing both the rehearsal and final speech of the President to the Line Records desk. Those involved in production activities were all warned in advance that they should disregard the rehearsal clip.
"The SABC now has strong prima facie evidence indicating that the broadcast of the incorrect clip was a well-considered and coordinated act of sabotage to bring the SABC and consequently the President into disrepute.
"The employees who were involved in production activities at the time of the incident were given opportunity to make written representations as to why disciplinary steps should not be instituted against them. The SABC has received the representations and, after due consideration, the Corporation has decided to suspend three permanent employees and unschedule one freelancer. Due process will be followed. The second phase of the investigation into the incident is still under way."
African News Agency (ANA)