National

No fish and chips at Nkandla

Glynnis Underhill

The man said to be Zuma's enforcer at the SABC was never going to take the Fish & Chips Co TV ad, which satirises Zuma, with a pinch of salt.

Hlaudi Motsoeneng, who has been praised for his fight against corruption at the SABC. (Gallo)

In fact, the broadcaster's acting chief operating officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, is not shy to admit that he personally took the controversial decision to take the commercial off air shortly before it was due to be flighted on Monday.

"We are saying freedom of speech comes with responsibility and accountability," said Motsoeneng. "It was the right thing to do. We need to respect the citizens of this country and their rights and dignity."

Motsoeneng, who has been praised for his fight against corruption at the SABC and criticised by some for not having a matric, said the advertisement gave the impression that the Fish and Chip Company's food was endorsed by Zuma. Anton Heunis, sales and marketing group executive, had come to him to get his approval to pull the advert, he said.

As Nkandla has been at the centre of a media storm around a security upgrade that amounted to more than R250-million, the banning of the ad has been a boon for the ad agency, as the commercial is now a massive hit on YouTube and news web sites.

In varied explanations for its banning of the advertisement, nobody at the SABC mentioned that the ad's fountain in front of Nkandla is shaped like a showerhead. Cartoonist Zapiro has been depicting Zuma with a showerhead Fever since his rape trial. Zuma caused a stir when he told the court he had unprotected sex and showered afterwards to prevent himself from contracting HIV.

The advertisement also refers to Nkandla as "a compound", a word SABC's head of news Jimi Matthews recently banned from use as it was considered to be "racist".

Motsoeneng said the public broadcaster was simply following its own editorial policy. "I would be offended if they associated me with fish and chips. Especially if I don't

associate myself with this," Motsoeneng said. "There are different views about whether you eat horse or don't eat horse. If I don't eat horse meat, and you do an advert about me eating horse, then you offend me."

The company Taste Holdings, the franchise that manages the Fish and Chip Company, had booked R1-million in advertising time at the cash-strapped SABC. As a gesture of reconciliation, it has now offered the presidency R100 000 for Zuma's favourite charity, according to Paul Warner, the founder of the ad agency Metropolitan Republic Group. However, by late Thursday Taste Holdings was reported to have voluntarily canned the advert and it was removed from the ad agency's website.

Presidency spokesperson Mac Maharaj said he would not be commenting on the advertisement and would not be drawn on whether the donation of charity funds would be accepted.


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