The state broadcaster was in the hot water with the ruling party again last week. TheMediaOnline reporter looked into its latest ‘sins’.
It was a local story out of Tlokwe, or Potchefstroom, but it sure caused a stir. The North West town’s African National Congress-led municipality had elected a Democratic Alliance mayor. The opposition party’s national spokesman Mmusi Maimane, made the announcement on Thursday, clearly taking the ruling party by surprise.
“…the Tlokwe council passed a motion of no confidence in the former mayor of Tlokwe, Andrew Maphetle,” said Maimane, adding that the opposition then tabled a motion to elect a new mayor — and won that vote 20-19.
“This victory shows how the divisions in the ANC are slowly tearing the party apart. The ANC in Tlokwe was so divided that it could not agree on a mayoral preference,” Maimane continued.
The new mayor of Tlokwe was Annette Combrinck, a former rector of the North West University’s Potchefstroom campus.
The national ANC referred journalists requesting comment to provincial party officials. But then the SABC reported on the matter, saying that one of the ANC’s national spokesmen, Jackson Mthembu, actually attended the meeting where its own mayor was ousted.
The ANC fired off a statement to media houses, saying: “The African National Congress is disturbed by the reckless reporting of the SABC on the proceedings in a council meeting where an ANC Mayor was replaced by a DA member in Tlokwe following a vote of no confidence.
“The SABC news bulletin reported falsely that Comrade Jackson Mthembu was part of that meeting. This was reported continuously despite the fact that Comrade Jackson had clarified this to two journalists. Firstly this accusation was made without talking to the ANC to verify the facts and secondly the correction was ignored.
“Comrade Jackson did not attend any council meeting in Tlokwe but was meeting provincial leadership to discuss the oncoming Presidential Centenary lecture scheduled for early next month.
“The ANC will raise it’s concerns with the senior management of the SABC and as well as lodge a formal complaint with the Independent Broadcast Complains Commission.”
The SABC did not respond to a request from TheMediaOnline to comment on the statement.
But this comes in the same month that SABC head of news Jimi Matthews ordered his newsroom to stop referring to President Jacob Zuma’s home in Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal as a “compound”.
An apology was even made on air on SAfm’s morning news show.
SABC news editors had received an email from Matthews banning the words “Nkandlagate” and Zumaville”.
Matthews told The Star newspaper that the word “compound” was a term used by white South Africans to refer to homes for “black migrant workers. It comes from our racial past [as a way of referring] to accommodation for migrant workers on the mine”.
At that time, SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago declined to comment on the email.
Also this month, the SABC was in the news after a six-year long blacklisting case, brought by the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) had, came to an end. An agreement was made between the two parties, which ended with the broadcaster admitting guilt in violating its editorial policies and the broadcasting code.
In September this year, reports emerged that the SABC had banned expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema — a vocal critic of President Jacob Zuma — from the air.
Matthews then issued a statement, saying: “I am very disappointed with the turn of events. Instead of debate, certain members of my staff ran off to other media houses claiming that I had banned Malema from the airwaves.”
IMAGE: Jimi Matthews / SABC
Want to continue this conversation on The Media Online platforms? Comment on Twitter @MediaTMO or on our Facebook page. Send us your suggestions, comments, contributions or tip-offs via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com