Letters to the editor: June 10 to 16 2016

Alarm bells ring Hlaudi and clear

Under no circumstances must Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the chief operating officer of the SABC, be allowed to reign like a dictator over the public broadcaster ( What you hear may not be what you SABC).

Nobody begrudges him a good job after his many years of service, during which he seems to have imbibed some know-how about broadcasting. But the pronouncements of the past weeks ring bells of a fascist nature loudly.

In the first place, we, the viewers, pay our licences and expect the best. Behind the call for 90% local music on all radio and television stations and 80% local content on the television channels is some kind of fundamentalist idea that the African people can be served by the lowest common denominator, without access to the international world of drama, culture, science, music and education.

We cannot, at this crucial moment in history, when the world is becoming a village, close our minds to the broader international consciousness that is developing.

The public broadcaster requires people at the helm with the widest possible perspectives on all matters. Mature views on politics, education, the arts and culture, science and medical concerns are needed to back all the output of the SABC.

The South African public deserves no less, and it is a lie to tell them that almost purely local input is good enough.

Our people require the best drama, the best music, the best literature, the best debates and discussions on every imaginable topic and, above all, our people need to be the first to know what is happening in the country we love.

There is also discrimination involved, as seen in the shutting down of Radio Lotus’s Indian music programmes. This is an act of racism and the Indian community should protest loudly.

Motsoeneng clearly does not have the required maturity of intellect or cultural knowledge for this important job, and it would be a betrayal of our working population to allow him to continue as the man in charge.

The public broadcaster is far too important to be left in the hands of fundamentalists. – Irma Liberty, Cape Town

Apartheid mind-set drives SA’s nuclear deal

Your editorial The poisoned nuclear debate describes Kelvin Kemm as “this country’s pro-nuclear lobbyist-in-chief”. He is more chilling than that.

He has publicly called for the repression of environmental activists ( New Age, October 21 2015): “It is time that the South African government started jailing some of the Greenpeace activists – and banning Greenpeace from receiving any foreign funds.”

Because no Greenpeace activists in South Africa are being prosecuted for breaking laws, his can only be a demand to bring back the apartheid state’s detention without trial. This evokes the military mind-set of the apartheid atomic bomb team.

His demand for a ban on nongovernmental organisations receiving foreign funds reminds one of their plight in President Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Note that Kemm never calls for any ban on foreign funds for nuclear vendors splurging on soft-sell propaganda in South Africa. – Keith Gottschalk, Cape Town

NPA’s Abrahams is like His Master’s Voice

The letter from Malose S Monene of the Polokwane Bar ( NPA has right to appeal) deserves a brief reply. It needs to be noted that the national director of public prosecutions, Shaun Abrahams, whom Monene stoutly defends, has no dog in the fight between the Democratic Alliance and the president over the reinstatement of the 783 charges against the latter.

An acting predecessor of his predecessor’s predecessor made the decision not to prosecute; Abrahams has let it be known that he had no part in the April 2009 decision of Mokotedi Mpshe to drop the charges. Mpshe, very wisely, abides by the decision of the full Bench of the high court, which, unsurprisingly, concluded it was irrational not to prosecute in circumstances in which the corruptor (Schabir Shaik) was found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to the satisfaction of all of the higher courts in the land, of corrupting the president.

Abrahams’s constitutional duty to exercise his functions “without fear, favour or prejudice” is not served by taking sides in this dispute, which he has inherited, and from which he should distance himself by simply abiding by the decisions of the courts in applications for leave to appeal.

By siding with the person who appointed him, he puts himself in an untenable position if the full Bench’s decision withstands all appeal procedures. How then will he deal with the docket in an even-handed fashion, without fear of the powerful, without favour to the friendly and without prejudice to the public interest?

Will he refuse to prosecute afresh? Will he throw the case by putting an inexperienced junior prosecutor on it? Abrahams ought to abandon the application for leave to appeal and leave it to the president to make such arguments against the full Bench’s decision as can reasonably be advanced in the future of the review.

This is the only proper way for Abrahams to serve institutional independence. At present, he is in danger of taking the role of the dog in the classic “His Master’s Voice” advertisement. – Paul Hoffman SC, director, Institute for Accountability in Southern Africa (Accountability Now)

Let June be a month of remembrance

As June 1 passed, you may have remembered that on that day in 2001 we lost a brave little boy, Nkosi Johnson. Born with HIV, he tugged at the world’s heartstrings at a time when HIV was viewed as a death sentence and discrimination was rife.

On June 2 2011, the mother of our nation, Mama Albertina Sisulu, died at the age of 92. Let us be reminded of this titan of liberation as we walk or drive on Albertina Sisulu Road.

As June 16 approaches, don’t just think of Hector Pieterson and Hastings Ndlovu, who were among the first to lose their lives in the Soweto uprisings in 1976, but also think of radio personality Eddie Zondi, whose euphonious voice presented Metro FM’s Sunday ballads. Sunday afternoons have never been the same since Bra Eddie died on Youth Day 2014.

Let’s use this month to reflect on the lives of great South Africans who have passed on. – Sandile Ntuli, Johannesburg

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