Mpofu not quitting, says incensed SABC

Reports that South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) chief executive Dali Mpofu was going to resign were dismissed by the broadcaster on Monday.

According to a report in the Sunday Times, Mpofu was heard saying at the African National Congress’s (ANC) 52nd national conference in Polokwane this month that he would resign as chief executive.

His comment was preceded by Jacob Zuma’s victory over Thabo Mbeki for the presidency of the ruling party, the report claimed.

”The SABC has been the subject of an orchestrated campaign aimed at impugning our commitment to one of the fundamental values of public-service broadcasting, namely editorial independence from political bias,” said SABC board chairperson Eddie Funde in a statement on Monday.

The report in the Sunday paper said the SABC had become part of the ANC’s leadership battle with coverage given to Mbeki’s key Cabinet ministers in order to promote his campaign. This coverage was, however, not afforded to the Zuma camp.

The report said Congress of South African Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi had described the SABC’s bias as ”scandalous”. He identified Mpofu, head of news Snuki Zikalala and political reporter Sophie Mokoena as central players in the broadcaster’s propaganda role.

The broadcaster dismissed the report, saying there was ”no truth” in it and that it was an ”attempt to discredit the SABC and the three senior officials mentioned”.

”Accusations like this are intended to discredit the public broadcaster for narrow political or commercial gains. Traditionally these accusations emanate from powerful lobbies representing either political, commercial, and other social interest groups [sic],” said Funde.

He said the broadcaster will take the matter up with the press ombudsman in order to ”clear its name” and to ”rid this country of bad journalism”.

The broadcaster said the journalist who wrote the story did not contact the SABC for a response. It also claimed that there were factual inaccuracies in the story — for example, Mokoena was described as a political editor, but she is a senior political reporter.

”The biggest disservice to the public which an institution like the SABC can mete out is to abuse this power by seeking to influence the hard-fought human right to exercise free choice,” Funde added.

”The SABC will not allow itself to be derailed by people who have agendas that are unknown to us. We will strive to provide credible information and news to all citizens irrespective of their political, economic and social orientation.” — Sapa

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