Top journalist tells of interference at SABC
Cape Town - Suspended SABC anchor and contributing editor Vuyo Mvoko has detailed the public broadcaster’s editorial influence in court papers yet to be filed in the South Gauteng High Court in Joburg.
The papers were served on the SABC on Thursday and are due to be filed in court on Monday.
In the papers, Mvoko sets out how the SABC “unlawfully refused” to honour its contract of service with him from July 7, by refusing to allow him to return to work.
Mvoko is not employed by the SABC, but was among eight journalists who had spoken out against changes in the corporation’s editorial policy surrounding the broadcasting of violent protests in which public property was being destroyed.
His three-year contract with the SABC, signed on April 1, 2016, expires in 2019.
In the court papers, Mvoko outlines a number of instances of interference by the broadcaster.
“What is happening is a full onslaught on the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution, most importantly the right to freedom of expression,” it reads.
Mvoko challenges the SABC’s decision to suspend him for bringing the broadcaster into disrepute for writing an article published in Independent Media’s titles on July 6.
Mvoko writes in the court papers that his show On The Record was cancelled without consultation or any reasons given.
The episode which aired on March 18 this year centred around race in South Africa and featured Public Protector Thuli Madonsela as one of the guests.
It was standard practice for the show to be aired at various times on the day following its premiere.
However, Mvoko said on March 19 this did not happen.
“The show was not repeated, without any consultation or communication with me as the executive producer of the show.
“Instead, on March 19, I was called into a meeting by Nyana Molete and Nothando Maseko (his reporting officers).
“Molete informed me that management did not want the show to continue. I asked for a reason, and he told me no reason had been given to him. That was the end of the debate. In short, the show was cancelled with no reasons given. It never played on air again,” Mvoko writes.
He said he was later told that acting chief executive Jimi Matthews was unhappy with Madonsela”s appearance on the show.
Mvoko informed his viewers about the show”s cancellation via Twitter and said he was subsequently disciplined for doing so.
The acting political editor, Sophie Mokoena, had told Mvoko that SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng was “scrutinising each and every word which I was uttering and that I should be careful on air”.