Lately, Communication Minister, Faith Muthambi became a hard nut to crack – even too hard for the ‘almighty’ ANC.
As reported, the bossy minister refused to show up in Luthuli house on Wednesday, as instructed by ANC’s communication subcommittee.
According to ANC’s Mthembu, the minster was told on Monday to report to Luthuli House on Wednesday to explain why SABC COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, banned showing of violent footage.
Defying the subcommittee’s instruction, Faith (who had publicly defended Motsoeneng severally) failed to show up.
Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association chairman, Ke’bby Maphatsoe, however supported Faith’s absence. He argued that the ANC shouldn’t have summoned and unveiled the agenda of the meeting via the media.
“Our position is that Faith is a comrade deployed by the ANC. But you can’t summon comrade Faith through e.tv and tell the media what you are going to discuss and also contradict the statement that was issued by Mantashe of the ANC NEC and also by the spokesperson, Zizi Kodwa.”
Reacting, Mthembu referred questions to ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe. “We have escalated the matter. The SG will speak on the matter,” he said.
During a media briefing by the ANC last week, the party suggested that the SABC contravened the Constitution as well as ANC policy.
Motsoeneng’s decisions have been perceived as undermining the SABC’s political independence and ability to serve the interests of the people. These decisions include banning all negative news about Zuma, banning the reading of newspaper headlines on air and banning coverage of violent protests.
However, on July 11, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa ordered the SABC to lift the ban on broadcasting violent footage. But the public broadcaster defiantly threatened to drag the Icasa to the constitutional court.
SABC board chairman Professor Mbulaheni Maguvhe was given seven days to confirm to Icasa that the ruling is taken as an order. However, the public broadcaster defended its decision saying: “We still believe that this is a moral and a cautious decision that we have taken.
We are worried as the SABC that freedom of speech and freedom of information doesn’t mean that our children whose minds are not ready to digest these visuals, that you should expose them to these visuals to grow [up] to be hooligans and irresponsible citizens.
“I still believe that we were right [to change editorial policies and not broadcast violent protests] . We have never imposed any blanket ban on the visuals,” said SABC’s Maguvhe.
He said the public broadcaster would consult their lawyers in the next five days, and won’t hesitate to go as far as the Constitutional Court.
Meanwhile, the Right2Know Campaign and SOS Coalition will on Wednesday discuss plans on staging a protest outside Luthuli House in response developments at the SABC.