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SABC Refutes Zuma’s Allegations of Media Suppression

by Central News Reporter
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SABC


By Mpho Moloi- SABC Responds to Jacob Zuma

Johannesburg, South Africa – The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has denied allegations made by former President Jacob Zuma, saying that the national broadcaster banned him from voicing his opinions and blocked the broadcast of his interview conducted on 22 May 2024.

The accusations emerged after Zuma expressed frustration over what he perceives as selective media censorship against him and his newly-formed political party, Umkhonto weSizwe. Zuma compared the perceived media blackout to apartheid-era restrictions on free speech, stirring significant controversy.

SABC’s Response

Mmoni Seapolelo, the Acting Group Executive for Corporate Affairs & Marketing at the SABC, categorically rebutted Zuma’s claims. “The allegations are not true,” Seapolelo stated, elaborating that since the inception of Umkhonto weSizwe, the public broadcaster has consistently provided coverage of the party’s activities. This includes extensive reportage of a rally on 18 May 2024 and continuous efforts to secure interviews with Zuma, despite often receiving no positive response from his team.

Seapolelo further clarified that on 22 May, the SABC’s Political Editor was invited to cover a party announcement in Durban. “The SABC duly responded to the invitation. However, the team was allocated less than 10 minutes and instructed not to ask any questions,” she said. According to Seapolelo, Zuma merely reiterated points made at the earlier rally, providing no fresh newsworthy content. Consequently, the SABC’s editorial team decided not to broadcast the interview.

Upholding Editorial Independence

Moshoeshoe Monare, Group Executive of News and Current Affairs, reaffirmed the SABC’s commitment to impartiality and independence in editorial decisions. “The SABC always exercises absolute independence and impartiality. All editorial decisions are based on newsworthiness,” Monare stated firmly. He emphasised that while the SABC covers a variety of perspectives, final broadcast decisions rest with the editorial team, which decided there was no new information to warrant broadcasting the interview.

Commitment to Ethical Standards

Seapolelo underscored the foundational principles guiding the SABC’s editorial policies, which include the highest standards of journalism, adherence to constitutional values, and compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. “The SABC’s Editorial Policies are anchored on the highest editorial standards, incorporating values and principles of the Constitution and the Broadcasting Act of 1994. Our coverage must offer a plurality of views and comply with ICASA regulations,” she explained.

Zuma’s Accusations

In a public address, Zuma alleged that the SABC, along with the eNCA, deliberately blocked his perspectives from reaching the public, likening it to oppressive media practices of the apartheid era. He expressed dismay over what he perceives as systemic bias against him, particularly during an election period when all voices should be heard.

“I think I’m the only one so far that is being blocked by big broadcasting stations,” Zuma complained, adding, “It is clear that all these big stations have come together to say Zuma must not be allowed to speak.”

Achieving Clarity and Balance

In response, Seapolelo reiterated that the SABC strives to maintain balance and fairness. “It is disingenuous to suggest the SABC has banned Mr Zuma or his views. Our editorial standards are stringent, and we uphold the principles of fair and ethical journalism.”

In a move ahead of the May 29 elections, the Umkhonto We Sizwe Party (MK Party), with strong backing from its president Jacob Zuma
In a move ahead of the May 29 elections, the Umkhonto We Sizwe Party (MK Party), with strong backing from its president Jacob Zuma

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