On Monday representatives of the SABC 8 appeared before Parliament’s SABC inquiry – Thandeka Gqubule, Krivani Pillay, Vuyo Mvoko and Lukhanyo Calata.
Their testimony on the climate of fear and censorship at the SABC provide damning evidence of the absolute destruction wrought on our public broadcaster by Hlaudi Motsoeneng and his gang.
We are especially outraged at the emerging evidence of the State Security Agency interfering in the affairs of the SABC and being called in to help Hlaudi Motsoeneng target perceived ‘threats’ within the organisation.
- Yesterday Thandeka Gqubule related how former SABC chairperson Ellen Tshabalala warned staff that their communications may be intercepted.
- Lukhanyo Calata also testified of an SABC reporter in Parliament having her computer seized by unidentified officials claiming to be ’SABC forensics’, after she was suspected of ‘leaking information’ – for which she was cleared, after an interrogation.
- It has previously been reported that SABC employees had detected officials from State Security Agency trying to get access to SABC servers with no explanation.
- The Committee also heard last week that the State Security Agency – government spies – have been brought in to investigate staff suspected of being whistleblowers.
This outrageous attack on the independence of the SABC must be investigated.
Following this testimony, we call on the Committee to summon State Security Minister David Mahlobo to face a public inquiry on exactly what the State Security Agency has been up to at the SABC. Who at the SABC has been targeted? Has the SSA intercepted anybody’s communications at the SABC? Did these antics in any way violate any person’s rights or break any laws?
We note the confirmation that several of the #SABC8 were suspended after they objected to the decision, by SABC head of news Simon Tebele, to “kill a story” about Right2Know protests against the SABC censorship policy. The SABC management’s decision to censor a protest against censorship is pathetic, but not surprising.
Last week, former SABC acting CEO Phil Molefe also testified about how Motsoeneng threatened to go to Pretoria after he refused to give him an increase. We want to know who in Pretoria did Motsoeneng report to? The political interference at SABC must be investigated including Minister Faith Muthambi’s role in undermining the independence of the public broadcaster.
The Media Workers Association of South Africa (MWASA) has raised concerns about not being invited to testify by the Committee. The SABC derecognised MWASA in 2011 for insisting on following an agreed protocol regarding the development of a sustainable, participatory restructuring programme. The association said it was excluded from all social dialogue platforms within the Corporation. According to MWASA, reports that staffers were happy because Motsoeneng kept them well-paid must be condemned and controverted. They claim that he only selected and promoted those he liked.
R2K will testify tomorrow, 14 December, where we will reiterate our call for an independent, credible well-run public broadcaster that holds power to account, meets the needs our diverse nation and remains a public asset in the hands of the people.
As Right2Know we applaud the SABC 8 for their courage. They have acted with transparency, integrity and selflessness – the values that our public broadcaster should embody. We thank them.