Why SABC is Neither Independent Nor Impartial

Published on 26th March 2019

While SABC's newly adopted mantra is "Independent and Impartial," the media house continues to identify itself with ANC, the ruling party. When I asked them to play the video and sound recordings of PAC founding President Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, they claimed that they did not have his recordings. I then suggested that they should read his available speeches on radio and television. The response was a deafening silence.

I have learned that the SABC's CEO Madoda Mxakwe has canned a documentary "Once Upon A Country” which was supposed to be aired on SABC 2 on the 24th of March this year at 22,00hrs. It was canned because it portrays the ANC in a bad light on matters such as human rights violations. The SABC has since sent an email giving a lame excuse as to why the documentary was not aired.

Madoda Mxakwe is a former department of public service and administration spokesperson and a former Nestlé executive. If he previously worked for the ANC government, it means he is a member or supporter of the ANC. SABC spokesperson Vuyo Mthembu has denied the allegation that the CEO of the SABC is an ANC apparatchik at the SABC, arguing that he doesn’t get involved in day to day scheduling and programming.

On Sharpeville Day (rechristened "Human Rights Day" by the ANC government), Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, one of South Africa's leading jurists delivered a public lecture on The Trial of Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe at Constitutional Hill where Sobukwe was once imprisoned in the aftermath of the 1960 anti-pass campaign which culminated in the Sharpeville massacre. Constitutional Hill is now South Africa's Constitutional Court which was previously known as the Old Fort or Prison Number Four at the time when Sobukwe and other PAC leaders were locked up there in 1960. The public lecture was neither covered live nor reported in the print media.

Advocate Ngcukaitobi observes that South Africa is still grappling with the issues Sobukwe raised many years ago. Sobukwe had all the answers to South Africa's problems.

The controversial leader of the EFF Julius Malema paid tribute to Sobukwe in Sharpeville. I am describing him as controversial because around 2010 as President of the ANCYL he made disparaging remarks about Sobukwe. The media has a love-hate relationship with Malema. He is invariably given live coverage when he addresses rallies. But on the 21st of March 2019, Malema was not covered live because he spoke at length about Sobukwe and the PAC. One of the issues he raised was that had the PAC been strong, the EFF would not be in existence because everybody would have gone to join the PAC. He continued to say that had Sobukwe been the first democratically elected President of South Africa, there would not be the socio-economic problems that South Africa faces today.

Malema said the PAC was the only organisation that fought against the Boers (white people). He said the PAC did not bomb pylons but shot at whites. These are just few issues that Malema said about Sobukwe and the PAC; he said much more than what I have recapitulated.

Issues such as those raised by Advocate Ngcukaitobi and Malema are not new, they have been raised before. However, Ngcukaitobi as a lawyer would not have spoken like Malema who is a politician.

I got flak from one or two PAC members who cannot read properly when I wrote a few days that Malema mentioned Sobukwe and the PAC more than ten times in his Sharpeville Day speech yet the PAC's Narius Moloto did not mention Sobukwe and the PAC not even once and that it was not for the first time that Moloto ignored to mention Sobukwe. He did it last year and he celebrates Sharpeville Day with the ANC whose leaders tried to suppress the history of the PAC and tried to write Sobukwe out of history.

By Sam Ditshego


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