Ed Herbst: Ramaphosa’s land update shows ANC still has SABC by the throat

JOHANNESBURG — Veteran journalist Ed Herbst delivers yet another stinging piece of analysis in this article on the SABC. The public broadcaster – despite trying to change its brand to being ‘independent and impartial’ – still has ANC propagandist tendencies. And these tendencies were on full display just a few nights ago when President Cyril Ramaphosa used the platform to communicate an ANC update on land and an economic stimulus package. The live broadcast did not appear on privately owned media network eNCA but only the SABC, sparking a range of serious questions over the ANC’s grip on the so-called ‘public broadcaster’. – Gareth van Zyl

By Ed Herbst*

IFP MP Liezl van der Merwe, a close watcher of the SABC said: “Even though the new board and new leadership at the SABC offer hope, we are well aware that Hlaudi’s enforcers still lurk in every newsroom. Just because Hlaudi is no more, it doesn’t mean that the deeply entrenched culture of favouring the ANC or a faction of the ANC is over.” – Sue Segar Hlaudi’s minions still lurk at SABC noseweek  July 2018

The subtitle on the screen was “President Cyril Ramaphosa”, not “ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa”. He wore a shirt draped in ANC colours. In the background were ANC flags. It was close to midnight. The occasion was Ramaphosa’s “address to the nation” on the outcomes of the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) lekgotla. The platform was the public broadcaster. – Ramaphosa land announcement reminiscent of Zuma years Mpumelelo Mkhabela News 24 2/8/2018

As Mpumelelo Mkhabela and Phumzile van Damme have pointed out, the carefully orchestrated collaboration between the ANC and the state broadcaster on the late night announcement about changing the Constitution to accommodate Expropriation without Compensation, was eerily reminiscent of the Jacob Zuma /Hlaudi Motsoeneng era at the SABC.

Veteran journalist Ed Herbst

An article posted on this website on 1 December last year – headlined SABC uncaptured? The evidence simply doesn’t add up – provided conclusive proof that the SABC is still controlled by Luthuli House and the Union buildings.

In a surreptitiously recorded speech which was part of a CCMA hearing and thus in the public domain, Nyana Molete sets out in chilling detail how and why the ANC still has the SABC by the throat.

Proof that he was right is contained in the anchor quotes to this article.

While changes have been made at senior staff level and to the SABC board, Hlaudi’s enforcers, ANC acolytes devoid of scruple, are still calling the shots.

So overwhelming is the daily maelstrom of the ANC’s Tsunami of Sleaze that you have probably forgotten about the Ellen Tshabalala saga and the tragic consequences of a dog eating her homework.

Well, nothing much has changed at the SABC it seems, despite the changing of the ANC guard and it is difficult to stay abreast, as usual, with changes to the SABC board. In September last year the SABC announced that one of the consequences of the Hlaudi Motsoeneng/Jimi Matthews/James Aguma era was that it needed a R3 billion bailout – twice as much as it needed as a consequence of the Dali Mpofu/Snuki Zikalala era.

SABC headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa

No money has been forthcoming however because after two decades of frenzied ANC looting, the cupboard is bare and the layer of gravy at the bottom of the trough is almost indiscernible.

In fact, the SABC is so cash-strapped that it cannot pay its service providers.

This is what is referred to as ‘Mulholland’s Law’ or the ANC’s ‘Reverse Midas Touch’.

Don’t despair though – there are occasional glimmers of light.

When ‘I am Hlaudi, baby!’ was searing our eyeballs with his Dayglo purple suits, Sully Motsweni was getting one promotion after another and, based on her ability and previous work record, nobody could discern why.

We still don’t know but two months ago she was granted bail of R5,000.

In the run-up to next year’s election the ANC has demanded the lion’s share of the news coverage and given the fact that Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s enforcers are still firmly entrenched in the state broadcaster’s news rooms, you can rest assured that its wish will be granted.

One gets quite misty-eyed when one remembers what Cyril Ramaphosa said back in 1992 before the glorious National Democratic Revolution got underway:

The ANC believes that unquestioning loyalty by a public broadcaster to a ruling party is incompatible with democracy – whether or not the ruling party enjoys the support of the majority of the population.

When the ANC wins the electoral support of the majority of South Africans, it will not seek to replace the National Party as the subject of the SABC’s slavish loyalty. And we want to establish both the principle and practice of that independence now.

The ANC is committed to public broadcasting which is independent of the government of the day, and which owes its loyalty not to any party, but to the population as a whole. In other words, we propose a broadcast service committed to providing full and accurate information to all South Africans, and one which is protected from interference by any special interests – be they political, economic or cultural.

For background and context go to www.sabctimeline.co.za.

  • Ed Herbst is a retired veteran journalist who writes in his own capacity.
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