The SABC’s independence will be tested by a TV documentary directed by Aids activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Zackie Achmat, which is highly critical of the government.
The documentary, entitled Law and Freedom, is scheduled to be aired in two parts over the next two weeks on SABC 1, starting next Monday. It uses landmark court cases in South Africa’s recent history to show “that the law coupled with political struggle can bring about significant change”.
Part one, called Who was Mrs Komani?, tells the story of a couple who took on the apartheid “dompas” system. It profiles attorneys like Geoff Budlender and current Constitutional Court president Judge Arthur Chaskalson, who played a central role in it.
Speaking at the press screening, Judge Dennis Davis said the documentary covered battles that used the law to contest the abuse of power.
Significantly, it does not shy away from challenges to the post-apartheid state, including the Grootboom case, the sodomy case in the Constitutional Court, and the Treatment Action Campaign’s Nevirapine application.
Health Minister Manto Tshababala-Msimang is shown embarrassing herself in a notorious interview, where she admits that the Department of Health will not obey the ruling of the court and that the “judiciary needs to listen to authorities”.
Achmat said the contract had been signed with the SABC and that he assumed the documentary would be screened. However, the Mail & Guardian has reported that channel bosses are increasingly under pressure to run content that mirrors the government’s agenda.
Confirmation that the documentary will be screened could not be obtained from SABC1 manager Richard McCullough.