News channel eNCA anchors Jane Dutton and Xoli Mngambi. Picture: @JGvanZyl_ZA Twitter
News channel eNCA anchors Jane Dutton and Xoli Mngambi. Picture: @JGvanZyl_ZA Twitter

Xoli Mngambi and Jane Dutton back on air after cigarette ban comments saga

By Staff Reporter and ANA reporter Time of article published May 9, 2020

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Cape Town - Jane Dutton and Xoli Mngambi, co-anchors of ‘The South African Morning’ show on eNCA, will be back on air on May 11, the news channel said on Saturday.

The two have not been on air since they suggested on Monday that the government's reversal on an earlier announcement that the sale of cigarettes would be allowed under level 4 lockdown pointed to a deep malaise within the ANC, with ministers seeking to weaken President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Dutton said the president had been "emasculated" and the public "duped", after Cooperative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma contradicted his public commitment to allowing a resumption of cigarette sales under Level 4 of a lockdown regime aimed at containing Covid-19.

Mngambi said it was clear ANC factional politics had played a role and that Ramaphosa would need to regain control of the reins, then asked: "But is he up to it?" 

Speculation was rife that the pair had been suspended when they were taken off air after their comments but management at the news channel and the two anchors have denied this.

The two journalists jointly apologised for the on-air exchange on Tuesday, describing their comments as "an unfortunate judgement call".

"An internal review process was effected in line with the company’s internal policies. The review entailed gaining clarity on the opinion and subsequent apology made and whether editorial diligence had been exercised. Through this process our broadcast and editorial teams identified the need to reaffirm our editorial guidelines and policies," the eNCA statement issued on SAturday said.

"As a broadcaster, we take exception to, and categorically refrain from censorship. We pride ourselves in delivering, fair, authentic and thought provoking well- researched content. We believe in the freedom of media as enshrined in our national constitution, however we also understand that such rights cannot exist without responsibility."

"We found our engagement to be fair and were able to share our views without prejudice,” Dutton said.

“The apology was initiated by us and not by channel management and we never felt that we were being censored in any way,” Mngambi added. 

Managing Director Norman Ndivhuho Munzhelele said: "Regular review of policies is important to the operation and success of any organisation and even more so within a news context as our environment is an ever-changing one. We found this engagement to be productive and successful. We are grateful to our viewers for their continued support and patience as we completed this process."

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