Presenters' suspensions for anti-Malema song 'disappointing'

The suspension of two South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) radio presenters for playing an anti-Julius Malema song is disappointing, the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) said on Thursday.

During their show on Ukhozi FM last week, presenters Khathide Ngobe and Ngizwenkosi Mchunu played Izingane Zoma’s song uMalema about the ANC Youth League president’s controversial conduct.

This led to their month-long suspension.

“The banning of the song by the South African Broadcasting Corporation amounts to the worst form of self-censorship and is a direct infringement on the right to artistic freedom,” FXI spokesperson Elston Seppie said in a statement.

“We call on the SABC to explain the basis upon which they decided not to play the song and also provide substantive reasons for suspending the two journalists,” he said.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said at the weekend that the issue that led to the presenters’ suspension was that they were not allowed to play music not on the station’s playlist.

He said their suspension had nothing to do with the way the song was politicised or its featuring of Malema’s name.

Kganyago added the song had been submitted to various radio stations two weeks ago and that the presenters played it while deliberations about it were still underway at Ukhozi FM.

League secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa has threatened to fight the release of the song in court and to sue the group for defamation.

Izingane Zoma also released the song Msholozi—President Jacob Zuma’s clan name—in support of his appointment to the presidency before he was elected in 2007.

It also called for corruption charges against him to be dropped.—Sapa

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