ANC demands more SABC coverage ahead of 2019 polls

The ANC is demanding more coverage from the public broadcaster ahead of the 2019 general elections, arguing that the SABC must recognise its majority share of the vote.

This was one of the issues presented by the party when it made submissions to the SABC’s commission of inquiry into political interference at the public broadcaster.

“People of South Africa in a constitutional democracy have expressed their preference. The ANC enjoys 62%, how that gets carried out in terms of editorial news is something, one way or another it must show,” said Zizi Kodwa, who is the head of the presidency at Luthuli House.

Kodwa was speaking to journalists after presenting to the inquiry. The inquiry is closed to the media.

“We are going to elections, we are not a 6% [party],” continued Kodwa. The EFF garnered 6% of the vote during the 2014 general elections.

He explained that the governing party wanted coverage allocated to political parties to reflect their share of the votes of South Africans. He suggested that the public broadcaster adopts the model used in Parliament to allocate speaking time to political parties. The parties are allocated time based on the votes they received in the elections, with the ANC getting a lion’s share of the time.

“The issue of equity does not mean we are all equal opportunity, that’s why in Parliament parties are not given equal time,” explained Kodwa.

In April, the SABC announced that it would hold two commissions: one looking into political interference and another, dubbed the “jobs for sex inquiry”, into sexual harassment claims. The commissions are a bid to transform the beleaguered public broadcaster into an accountable, independent and responsive organisation.

No ‘Luthuli House deployees’ at SABC

Last year, Parliament held an inquiry into the previous board’s fitness to hold office. In that inquiry, SABC journalists complained about political interference.

Kodwa said there were three key issues which the ANC raised, the first being around coverage. He said the party was also concerned with how often the media, overall, conflated party and state, which resulted in the ANC not being given a chance to give comment on critical issues.

“Ministers don’t represent the ANC; they are the state, not the ANC,” highlighted the head of the ANC’s presidency.

The third issue was political interference. Kodwa said the ANC was bothered by instances in the recent past where there was outside influence on operational and management decisions at the SABC.

Kodwa said the public broadcaster had to be protected from any influence by powerful individuals.

“We think we must protect the corporation from such influence, board members who can just, at the drop of a pen, can call a journalist.”

He said not even ministers had the right to directly call journalists and give “instructions” when it came to their editorial work.

“Independence means, among other things, hiring qualified people. Those not qualified are the name droppers who say I am here as a deployee of Luthuli House. We don’t deploy people in the management of the SABC,” said Kodwa. — News24

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Matshidiso Madia
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