Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Address by Cde Solly Mapaila, SACP 2nd Deputy General Secretary at the Picket Against Administration and Governance Decay at the SABC
6 July 2016, Auckland Park, Johannesburg


Dear comrades, thank you for your participation to stop the SABC from falling.

The personality cult that has emerged here at the SABC, our public broadcaster;

...the administrative and governance structures that have decayed in conformity here at the SABC, thus allowing the personality cult to emerge and to take the centre stage;
...the consequent indifference plunging the SABC into a crisis mode, with one crisis forming the basis for a new, more damaging crisis:
...is not bigger than our nation, the public of South Africa as a whole!

The SABC belongs to all the people of South Africa. It does not belong to a few individuals who clearly appear to have now established a dictatorial regime encircling it from within and their collaborators from without, who possibly exist.

The SABC must be accountable to the nation as a whole. Its policies, as required by the relevant provisions of the rule of public broadcasting law, must be the outcome of a meaningful public consultation process conducted in good faith. SABC policies must be a reflection of the materiality of participatory democracy, the will of the people!

The despotic regime that has established itself here at the SABC;

...the victimisation of workers, their suspensions and hauling to disciplinary hearings based on trumped-up charges simply because they disagree with the officialdom of decay and wrongdoing;
...the unlawful dismissals of board members simply because they disagreed with the illegal appointment of Mr Hlaudi Motsoeneng, simply because they disagreed with the handover of our nation`s common heritage, the handover of SABC archives to MultiChoice:
...must not triumph in our society, a society in which the majority fought and defeated the apartheid regime!

Let us recall that the so-called agreement signed in 2012 by the unlawfully appointed COO gives MultiChoice indirect influence over SABC news decisions and control of its massive programme archive. MultiChoice was established by the same interests who founded the Afrikaner Broederbond and gave birth to apartheid. It is a subsidiary of Naspers` monopoly, the only media company that refused to appear before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for its complicity in the crime against humanity, apartheid.

What must be expected from the collusive SABC-Naspers` MultiChoice nexus?

Absolutely nothing but continuing or deepening stranglehold of Naspers`s monopoly in our media and communications industry!

It is in this context that the SABC conveyed the Premier Soccer League`s television rights to MultiChoice/M-Net. Through this collusion, the SABC-MultiChoice/M-Net nexus is denying the workers and the poor access to live broadcast of many PSL matches, in particular those that take place during the week, but as well as other lucrative PSL matches that the SABC has to practically beg back from the monopoly. This apartheid exclusion is going on despite the fact that the PSL awarded the rights to the SABC, not without public pressure, to make its matches accessible to the workers and the poor who cannot afford MultiChoice monopoly Set-Top Boxes and its never-ending but ever-increasing subscription fees!

What else must be expected from an SABC that is unable to deliver on its public broadcasting mandate because of corporate capture, an SABC that is used to strengthen capitalist monopoly accumulation regime at the expense of free-to-air television, at the expense of public broadcasting?

What must be expected from an SABC that is unable to deliver on its public broadcasting mandate because of a personality cult?

What must be expected from an SABC that is unable to deliver on its public broadcasting mandate because of persistent administrative and governance decay?

What must be expected from an SABC that is unable to deliver on its public broadcasting mandate because of the ongoing slaughter of the journalism profession, by means, among other things, of the editorial edict insisting that the public cannot be trusted with the truth?

What must be expected from an SABC that is unable to deliver on its public broadcasting mandate because of the use of news coverage to dispense patronage in return of praises and unquestioning flattery with the personality cult at the helm of the rot eating the public broadcaster straight from the top?

The answers to all of these questions are very few.

We must expect nothing but the return of apartheid-styled propaganda; censorship of news involving lying by an act of deliberate omission; showers of coverage washing the personality cult and his praise singers.

In short, we must expect nothing but the destruction of public broadcasting, nothing but the destruction of free-to-air television in favour of the apartheid-era Naspers, its subsidiary, MultiChoice/M-Net, its Set-Top Boxes and ever increasing monopoly subscription fees!

Let us use this opportunity to expose the lies that are being peddled about the 90 percent local content!

It is blatantly clear that the personality cult that has firmly established his despotism at the SABC has been using the age-old tactic of divide and rule in order to maintain his tyranny at the SABC.

In particular, it is clear that the unlawfully appointed COO here at the SABC has been using the 90 percent local content rule to divide workers in the creative industries and to sow confusion among members of the public.

It is a big lie that progressive organisations opposed to and expressing their views without fear or favour against the ongoing administrative and governance decay at the SABC, do not want local content. As part of our campaign to bring to an end the rot that is eating the SABC like a cancer from within, as part of our campaign to ensure good governance and developmental public broadcasting, the SACP embarked on mass actions to the SABC.

On 21 October 2012, we embarked on a march to the SABC demanding, among other things, more space and time for progressive local content. Our protest march was blacked-out by the SABC in a manner that is not dissimilar to the recent action taken at the SABC that has led to the suspension and hauling of journalists to disciplinary hearings.

The SACP is in fact one of the organisations that have been targeted and worst impacted by despotic censorship and corruption of news at the SABC.

Our partners in the Media Transformation Task Team, among others the Save Our SABC Campaign Coalition, which we are part of as the SACP, have also been consistent that South African airwaves must urgently be dominated by local content and to this end engaged with ICASA, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, through the appropriate public engagement process, on this matter. Mr Hlaudi Motsoeneng`s SABC strongly opposed the increase of local content quotas. Despite all this, the struggle continued until 70 percent was won as a BASELINE for further BUT WELL-THOUGHT-OUT AND PROPER increases not limited to 90 percent.

It is now the self-same personality cult manifesting in the person of Hlaudi Motsoeneng who plays the hero on the moral high-horse, whereas he is in fact a deceitful tyrant abusing the plight of the creative workers` industry while riding the donkey of despotism.

The day this personality cult and his collaborators both at the SABC and elsewhere succeed to misappropriate, in that manner, whatever is remaining of the SABC, will spell a totalitarian expropriation of the public broadcaster.

Without presenting the memorandum, which will follow in a few minutes, it is clear that one thing, made up by several pillars that are fundamental MUST TAKE PLACE NOW:

the rot at the SABC must end;
the unlawfully appointed COO must go;
the so-called new editorial policy decreeing censorship must be abolished;
suspensions of workers and disciplinary hearings consequential from that decree must be reversed;
victimisation of workers must end;
the SABC/MultiChoice collusive agreement must be annulled, the SABC must pull out of it;
the SABC board must be held accountable for the administrative and governance decay that is destroying the public broadcaster.
There is another problem, dear comrades. That is the broadcasting amendment bill presently destined for parliamentary passage.

The bill has the effect of watering down or usurping the powers of parliament in relation to the appointment of SABC non-executive board members. This can result in a distortion of the character of the SABC as a public broadcaster, back to the state broadcaster, like in the past, but this time via a ministerial nominations committee for non-executive board members.

Parliament is a democratically elected institution. It is meant to represent the views and aspirations of the public both in law-making and in handling other public affairs conferred to it to handle in terms of democratic law.

Parliament is not some handpicked ministerial committee. The role it must play on behalf of the public in relation to the SABC must actually be exercised rigorously and not be weakened.

It is important for law-making to take into consideration not only the present but also the future. We do not know who the future ministers of communication will be and what choices they will make with regards to the so-called ministerial nominations committee on SABC board members. But based on what we already know from the past and the present in terms of the administrative and governance decay at the SABC, all aspects of that bill that affect the powers of Parliament and pose the threat of the SABC regressing back to a state broadcaster must be rejected.

That is the way forward, dear comrades!

In solidarity with the workers at the SABC, in defence of public broadcasting and free-to-air television broadcasting, the SACP says the struggle continues!!

Issued by the SACP

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