South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)’s decision to place a ban on airing footage of violent protests has been welcomed by Communications Minister Faith Muthambi.
The minister welcomed the development via a statement issued on Monday. The statement also stated that the department respects the editorial independence of the SABC and therefore welcomes any positive action by the public broadcaster that seeks to condemn the vandalizing of infrastructure and the destruction of schools, and public infrastructure.
“We unequivocally condemn the destruction of public and private infrastructure. It is our belief that the decision by the public broadcaster not to show footage of people burning public institutions, such as schools and libraries, in any of its news bulletins, will go a long way to discourage attention-seeking anarchists,” she said.
The communications minister added that SABC’s decision was taken in the spirit of social cohesion and nation building, and not censorship, as alleged.
Last week, the SABC announced its decision to stop television broadcasts of violent anti-government protests flaring up around the country, in a bid to discourage others from carrying out similar forms of violence.
The public broadcaster also called on other media houses to take a leaf from them by supporting them and doing same. It said it will continue to cover peaceful protests, but it’s unclear where journalists and editors will have to draw the line.
Spokesman Kaizer Kganyago added “We will illustrate protesters’ needs. But the minute that they burn things to prove a point, that is when we will stop.”
However, SABC’s decision did not go down well with some political parties and NGOs in the country. Cosatu argued that ” people have a right to know what’s happening, “warts and all”, from an independent public broadcaster”.
EFF’s spokesperson, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi asserted that “The decision in essence, and we know for a fact, has to do with protecting ANC and not showing public dissent against it.”
The Democratic Alliance (DA) is of the opinion that “Mr Motsoeneng is using the editorial policy to deliver on the task to fully turn the SABC into a propaganda portal for his political masters at Luthuli House.”
Lately, there have been upsurges of violence across the country. Sadly, most of the protests saw many buildings and schools either burnt down or vandalized.