Pule Mabe is the new ANC spokesperson. Picture: ANA

Johannesburg - The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) on Monday warned the new spokesperson of the African National Congress (ANC), Pule Mabe, against "infringing on the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC) right to cover stories it deems important". 

Sanef media freedom sub-committee chairperson, Sam Mkokeli, said the editors' forum noted that "Mabe has been critical of the SABC coverage of a dissident group claiming to be ANC and SA Communist Party (SACP) members, calling themselves the ‘Zuma must go’ campaign".

On Sunday the anti-Zuma group, some wearing ANC regalia, announced at a press conference they had planned a Monday march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, where they said they would "remove" President Jacob Zuma from power.

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"Mabe has strongly taken issue with the SABC covering the press conference. He has argued that the people covered have no mandate to talk and are not in formal ANC structures."

"Sanef believes that the SABC must be allowed to exercise its editorial independence to cover the stories it deems fit, including of dissident ANC and SACP members. 

"The ANC has the right to contest the coverage of the SABC, but it should never infringe on the SABC’s right to cover the stories it deems important. Also, it should never intimidate or threaten SABC journalists."

Sanef said the role of the SABC as South Africa’s public broadcaster "is critical, particularly during these turbulent and uncertain political times". 

The editors' forum added that it "believes that frank, robust relations between the ruling party and the SABC are essential. However, what must be jealously guarded is the SABC’s right to choose the stories it wishes to broadcast and its right to report without fear or favour."

African News Agency/ANA