Right2Know’s protest outside the SABC in Auckland Park earlier today brought together a number of different organisations concerned with the issue of censorship at the national broadcaster.
Supporters from NUMSA (the National Union of Metal Workers), the Voices of the Poor of Concerned Residents of South Africa, along members of the general public gathered outside the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) building to challenge the “rot and irregularities,” at the broadcaster.
These were the words of Dinga Sikwebu, the National Education Coordinator of NUMSA, who added that “the SABC is turning into the state broadcasting megaphone for Luthuli House.”
The protest was held ahead of World Press Freedom Day tomorrow which celebrates the “hard fought freedoms achieved by journalists,” according to Dale McKinley, spokesperson of R2K. “We believe [these are] being violated by our public broadcaster … we are raising concerns about threats to these freedoms.”
The SABC has come under criticism recently with the banning of political adverts from ANC-opposition parties. In both cases, these decisions were upheld by ICASA, the broadcasting regulator.
The SABC focuses predominantly on ANC-related news, according to Sikwebu. “Yesterday was May Day and there were all the rallies, other than Vavi, everyone depicted on the [SABC] news was from the ANC.”
“What the SABC does is not right,” said spokesperson Eunice Manzini, of the Voices of the Poor of Concerned Residents of South Africa. She referred to the lack of broadcasting airtime given to those living in the townships and said, “The SABC must be a public broadcaster and not for the rich only.”
The 3rd May 2014 marks twenty three years since the adoption of the Windhoek Declaration on Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic Media which was developed by African journalists in the spirit of press freedom.