South Africa: Global media bodies slam SABC interference

Cape Town, South Africa (PANA) – The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum (WEF) have written a joint letter to Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the Chief Operations Officer of the South African national broadcaster, demanding the withdrawal of charges against three senior journalists with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

This follows a week of high drama after SABC CEO Jimmi Mathews resigned after citing turmoil at the SABC and hundreds of journalists protested outside the broadcasters Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg offices.

Motsoeneng sparked a national outcry when he announced that the SABC would no longer cover violent protests.

WAN-IFRA and WG which represent 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and more than 3,000 companies around the world have cited "grave concern” over reports of censorship.

“We have been particularly outraged by the decision to suspend three senior journalists who had raised concerns over the shift in editorial policy ahead of the August 2016 local government elections, which they felt violated the editorial charter of the public broadcaster,” the letter read.

The organisations said they were deeply concerned that recent decisions taken by management at the SABC pose “a serious threat” to media freedom. The letter was signed by WAN-IFRA president Tomas Brunegård and WEF president Marcelo Rech.

In addition, the Cape Town Press Club this week said Motsoeneng must be relieved of his duties in order for the broadcaster to regain its credibility.

Press Club chairman Brent Meersman said the atmosphere of fear at the SABC did not bode well for freedom of speech and democracy. He compared the situation to the apartheid era when the SABC was used as a government mouthpiece.
-0- PANA CU/VAO 3July2016

03 july 2016 13:02:23

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