Reports have it that the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) banned phone call-ins to its programs to stop complaints about the ANC, and intends to lift the ban after the local government elections.
City Press reported that communication was sent to all radio stations to stop having open lines during programs until after the local government elections.
Tony Soglo, Metro FM program manager confirmed this when he commented that the ban is “to protect the station and the SABC against anybody who could potentially use the platform for their own benefit and also use it for electioneering”.
Meanwhile, SABC spokesperson, Kaizer Kganyago explained that the issue is not about ANC as insinuated. “We are not talking ANC here, people are just deliberately misleading people. Politics is not ANC,” Kganyago said.
He then buttressed thus; “We have said to people who when it is almost closer to time for elections, we don’t want programming to deal with political issues.
We want political issues to be dealt with by news and current affairs because it is made out of journalists who are able to handle that. People who are presenters, some of them are not equipped to deal with those issues.
We are then saying that, for this period, avoid doing open line if you are not a current affairs show. You are creating a situation where anybody can say anything and that’s when issues of politics are then sneaked in during open line.”
Disregarding the explanation, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said they will request an investigation by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) into SABC’s instruction to all SABC radio stations requiring them to stop open lines until after the election.
To the DA, “SABC’s decision is in violation of its current Editorial Policy; its obligations as listed in the Broadcasting Act; and its license conditions in terms of the ICASA Code of Conduct for Broadcasting Service Licensees.
All South Africans have a stake at the SABC, and should be given reasonable opportunity to voice their opinions on matters of their interest,” DA Stated.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) regarded the incident as an abuse of the SABC by the ANC. In a statement, they stated that “SABC has once more insulted the intelligence of its journalists by impressing on them that they need tutelage during this local government elections year. It is effectively saying they cannot through their journalistic judgment differentiate between electioneering and public discussion.
It is indeed true that the SABC’s move comes as a result of many ANC ministers who complained that there is too much negativity against the government of the ANC.
The move therefore is not concerning elections, but protection of ANC from public criticism, which is a clear violation of freedoms of speech.” They equally called on ICASA to investigate the matter.