DA tests SABC impartiality claim

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) knew President Cyril Ramaphosa’s late night announcement on land expropriation without compensation was in his capacity as ANC president and not as president of the republic, according to the Democratic Alliance (DA).

Ramaphosa’s announcement was broadcast on SABC accompanied by a banner which read: “President Ramaphosa addresses the nation”.

The address was a post-ANC lekgotla address to announce the governing party’s support of amending Section 25 of the Constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.

According to the DA, broadcasting the speech is deceptive because it leads viewers to believe that it “is in his [Ramaphosa’s] capacity as state president and not ANC president.”

In a statement released on Tuesday, the DA accused the SABC of knowing that the address was of a “party-political nature”.

READ MORE: ANC will support constitutional amendment to expropriate land without compensation

The statement further reveals the DA has it on “good authority” that the president’s statement was “prepacked” by the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) which then distributed it to a several media houses.

The GCIS is a department that is tasked with managing government’s public communications of any actions and changes in policy.

The DA further contends the SABC’s broadcast of Ramaphosa’s speech “reveals the ANC’s abuse of a state institution for party-political purposes”.

The party has given the national broadcaster until midnight on Wednesday to air a message from its leader Mmusi Maimane on land reform saying that “if the SABC is as impartial as they claim, they will air the clip.”

The DA has already submitted a complaint to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA). The complaint is on the basis that it is against the BCCSA’s code of conduct for the public broadcaster to “accept a packaged video from a political party, to interrupt normal programming to air the recording, and then deny opposition parties the opportunity to do the same.”

The party’s shadow minister of communications, Phumzile van Damme, told the Mail & Guardian that if the SABC does not broadcast Maimane’s clip then the party would continue with the BCCSA action. 

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