If one looks at public broadcasters in other countries, one realizes that as brands they are synonymous with quality local content and enable their audiences to find local content across all platforms and content genres, creating and building the national identity and connecting creative nationals with audiences and each other. They project their countries’ values and perspectives to neighboring countries and do not become cultural imperialists. They are available to all citizens regardless of geographical or economic circumstances and present on all delivery platforms. They are critical sources of information. They are trusted sources of news and information backed by the highest editorial standards. Can this be said about the SABC radio and television programmes? The unfortunate answer is NO.
However I would like to single out a Motsweding Radio programme hosted by Goitsemodimo Seleka as an exception. It is unbiased. Seleka doesn’t have an axe to grind and a chip on his shoulder. He is a watchdog and not a lapdog or a poodle of the ANC. Is the SABC a critical source of information? Is it a trusted source of information and backed by the highest editorial standards? Me thinks not.
Morning Live recently played a clip of that political nincompoop ANCYL leader Julius Malema saying the PAC hijacked the 21 March 1960 anti-pass campaign from the ANC but never provided the PAC with its democratic right to reply. When Malema gave marching orders to BBC journalist Jonah Fisher he said “…SABC is our own…”. To date the SABC hasn’t objected or contradicted Malema to prove that it does not belongs to the ANC.
The other day I listened to Tokyo Sexwale, ANC NEC member and Minister of Human Settlement, being interviewed by a Morning Live presenter and describing Chris Hani as a democrat. But the events during the early 1980’s mutiny in ANC camps in Angola and at the 1985 Kabwe conference paint a different picture to that of a democrat. Hani literally suppressed the views of the survivors of the mutiny who were detained and tortured from expressing their views. What type of a democrat is that? Buti Manamela of the Young Communist League also had carte blanche on Siki Mgabadeli’s radio show.
Morning Live and SAFM Radio featured the 17th anniversary of the death of Hani but have ignored the 20th anniversary of the death of Jafta Masemola, the longest-serving political prisoner on Robben Island, which fell on the 17th April. There is a subliminal message the SABC reinforces on gullible, credulous and unsuspecting audiences that the ANC and its leaders have contributed in our struggle for liberation more than the PAC and its leaders. They are implying that Nelson Mandela, Chris Hani are more important than Sobukwe, Masemola and Sabelo Phama and that’s not true.
Morning Live also ignored requests to feature the 32nd anniversary of Robert Sobukwe, and the 36th anniversary of the cruel murder of Onkgopotse Tiro on the 1st of February. The PAC is denied coverage by the ANC-controlled SABC currently, the same way the racist regime denied ANC and PAC coverage during apartheid days. The ANC used to complain about the Broederbond-controlled SABC but it is now doing to the PAC what the National Party used to do to it and the PAC. Moreover, the SABC is, generally speaking, stuffed by sycophants who curry favour with the ANC.
The SABC must report about former liberation movements such as the PAC and Black Consciousness organizations. They must go and look for them and find out about their programmes and should not expect these organizations to go and look for them. They must have contact numbers of leaders of these organizations just like they have those of the ANC and its alliance partners. We are sick and tired of hearing about the tripartite alliance everyday on radio and television.
By Sam Ditshego