About 2 000 Congress of SA Trade Union members marched on the SA Broadcasting Corporation and Media24 on Tuesday to protest against the pair’s ”anti-labour” news reporting.
First to feel the protesters’ anger was the SABC where a memorandum of grievances was handed over.
Cosatu secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi said the only time the federation received coverage was when it called for a strike or was fighting with government. Cosatu’s community programmes were always ignored.
”As workers numbering over a million, we are the SABC’s biggest constituency and therefore demand an immediate stop to this unfair and inconsistent reporting of labour news,” he said.
Vavi also slated the public broadcaster for promoting English at the expense of the country’s 10 other official languages.
”Our illiterate parents, who have ensured that their children obtain the education they have today, have only 30 minutes of watching television a day, and that is during news time on Nguni or Sotho channels.”
Earlier, musician and former political exile Letta Mbuli said the SABC should remember that music in the region began long before 1652 — when European settlers first arrived in the country.
Mbuli said the SABC should ensure that South African music was played and that artists were paid what was due to them.
”Do away with your unrealistic quotas system. Music in this country is listened to by the majority which speak indigenous languages. If artists can not hear themselves then there is no music.”
Performing Arts Workers Equity general secretary Kagiso Senkge said the SABC was giving ”better coverage to Valentine’s Day than to labour events”.
”By insisting on promoting cheap outdated American films at the expense of our local productions, the corporation is killing the talent of our own people,” Senkge said.
Accepting the memorandum on behalf of the SABC, Top Sport general manager Mvuzo Mbebe said the broadcaster had already agreed with Cosatu to hold quarterly meetings where they would discuss improvements of employees’ conditions.
A few hundred metres from the SABC, Vavi ”got his own back” at the City Press newspaper which recently depicted him in a cartoon
handing a bunch of flowers to a reporter as a bribe.
Vavi handed a bunch of flowers to City Press editor Vusi Mona ”as a gesture of goodwill and not a bribe”.
Addressing the workers, Vavi said the media had the right to express its views and report on anything without fear or favour.
”That right also applies to the City Press whose reporters should do so without fear for their lives.
”In fact should their lives be threatened we would march as we always did in the past,” he said.
However, Vavi said the paper continuously published malicious stories while hiding behind press freedom.
Cosatu leaders would not be intimidated from criticising the paper’s reporting.
”Not even their cartooning of us will deter us.
”Cosatu is not about to split. Do yourselves a favour and send a reporter for training on labour issues,” he said.
Mona said the paper’s managers would apply their minds to the memorandum and respond in due course. – Sapa