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In a strongly worded statement to the South African Broadcasting Corporation, the Helen Suzman Foundation has called for immediate action given the recent treatment of employees, or court action will follow.
Statement from the Helen Suzman Foundation
During the past year, the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) has come across several instances of government officials being placed under intolerable pressure and hounded out for doing their jobs in conformity with the law. This undermines the integrity of public administration and destroys state capacity, needed both for the protection of South Africans and the development of the country.
We are particularly appalled at two communications within the SABC, both of which are in the public realm. The first is a memorandum from three senior employees to the Chief Operating Officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, and dated 26 June 2016. It contains the following passage:
…we feel aggrieved that the image of our institution and our journalistic integrity continues to be compromised by unconstitutional pronouncements that erode the credibility of the SABC and the journalistic integrity of all of us who work for it. Furthermore, we wish to register our deep concern for our colleagues who have been suspended for expressing their right to freedom of expression by simply debating the newsworthiness of events as expected, during editorial meetings.
The second is a letter of resignation from the Acting Group CEO, Jimi Matthews in which he states:
…the prevailing corrosive atmosphere has impacted negatively on my moral judgement and has made me complicit in many decisions which I am not proud of…What is happening at the SABC is wrong and I can no longer be part of it.
The HSF regards the integrity of the SABC as essential at all times, and particularly in the lead up to elections. We have today written to the Board and the Chief Operating Officer stating our view that a list of eight actions by the SABC would be unconstitutional and unlawful. These actions are set out in the letter blow, which is also posted on the website along with this statement.
We have called upon the SABC to provide the HSF with a written undertaking by 16:00 on Thursday, 30 June 2016, that it will desist from these actions, failing which, the HSF will seek urgent relief from Court.
Helen Suzman Foundation’s legal letter to the Board and the Chief Operating Officer of the SABC:
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