SABC's Zuma Gag Slammed
Johannesburg - The Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) and the Media Monitoring Project (MMP) sharply criticised the SABC on Monday after reports that the broadcaster banned some of its SAfm presenters from discussing the "Zuma issue".
This comes after the website www.moneyweb.co.za reported at the weekend that it had access to an e-mail in which SAfm staffers were ordered not to discuss allegations that deputy president Jacob Zuma accepted bribes in the government arms deal.
"From now until further notice, no programmes of a 'political nature' may be broadcast outside the news and actuality time slots," the e-mail allegedly said.
According to the e-mail the message specifically applied to the "Zuma matter" that would in future only be dealt with in news and actuality programmes.
Peter Matlare, group chief executive of the SABC, and Maphule Mbhalati, station manager, denied these allegations.
Jane Duncan of the FXI said this case impacted on listeners' right to freedom of speech.
"News and actuality (on radio) are compiled very carefully to make sure that broadcasts contain a combination of government and other experts' comments.
"But during phone-in programmes, listeners really get the opportunity to air their views on the politics of the day," she said.
Duncan said this SABC's action was strange since the broadcaster recently committed itself to give the public more say in its programming.
Bharti Daya of the MMP said it was against democratic principles to gag journalists in this way.
"Just because the SABC is a public service broadcaster, it does not mean it may not criticise the government," she said.
With acknowledgements to Jo Prins and the Beeld.