'Orders from above' can Zapiro's SABC interview

Cartoonist Jonathan "Zapiro" Shapiro. (David Harrison)

Cartoonist Jonathan "Zapiro" Shapiro. (David Harrison)

The Times reported on Thursday that Shapiro said the cancellation of the pre-recorded SABC3 show Interface, which was meant to feature him, was “potentially critical of President Jacob Zuma”.

"Even in the interview it felt like I was being pushed into having to say something positive about the president," he added.

This was due to "orders from above", the Times reported.

The decision to can the current affairs show comes a day after the SABC announced that it would centralise editorial content of all talk shows dealing with politics and governance, and just a week after it came under heavy critcism for, at the last minute, cancelling a radio talk show about media coverage of Mangaung with the editors of three newspapers because an ANC representative was not part of the panel that was being interviewed.

"This decision will help us to have a centralised way of dealing with issues of a political and governance nature in a coherent and systematic way and in line with our editorial policy," said Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the South African Broadcasting Corporation's acting chief operating officer, said on Wednesday of the new centralised system.

Clamp down
According to a statement from the broadcaster: "It is therefore important for news and current affairs to be the custodian of all the talk shows that are dealing with political and governance issues in all its 18 radio stations. This will go a long way in assisting the organisation to be accountable to the public and have proper controls."

The broadcaster announced that the decision "will help the SABC to deliver on the requirements of the editorial policy".

According to the SABC's editorial policy – guided by the Broadcasting Act, No 4 of 1999 – "When an event of national importance is of a party political nature, editorial staff are to ensure that the SABC policies on objectivity, accuracy, fairness, impartiality and balance are adhered to".

The public broadcaster last week said its decision to cancel a talk show on MetroFM with Sam Mkokeli, political editor from Business Day, the Sunday Times's political editor S'thembiso Msomi and Financial Times bureau editor Andrew England was "leadership at its best". – Additional reporting by Sapa


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