THE ANC'S SABC MACHINATIONS NO BETTER THAT THE OLD NATS STATEMENT ISSUED BY BANTU HOLOMISA, MP - UDM PRESIDENT (16 SEPTEMBER 2007)

For more than a year now the shenanigans and biased behaviour of the SABC has become increasingly more sordid; many good journalists and media workers at the SABC are tarred with this brush because of decisions and actions taken in the upper echelons of Auckland Park. It is no surprise that many talented people have left the organisation.

The latest media reports about ANC Headquarters enforcing a Parliamentary Caucus decision to pick their preferred candidates for the SABC Board must therefore surely come as the death knell for any hope of independence at the SABC. What should be a public broadcaster has for several years now been systematically steered back onto the path of state broadcaster and ruling party mouthpiece. This is a direct and undeniable threat to democracy because of the wide and powerful reach of SABC media platforms.

It is preposterous to hold public hearings, indeed to follow a drawn-out parliamentary procedure, in order to nominate and select suitable candidates for the SABC Board and then to have people and opinions parachuted in from outside this process and outside of Parliament. Luthuli House should not dictate, against the better wishes of even ANC public representatives, what decisions are made inside Parliament. It is undemocratic and nullifies the whole point of going through the Parliamentary process of considering candidates for the SABC Board. Indeed, even senior ANC leaders have acknowledged that it not right, nor viable, for Luthuli House to micro-manage the affairs of Parliament.

Thankfully we still have in this country courageous print and broadcast media outside the SABC who will fight to bring the truth to the public. Equally fortunate for us is that the ANC is a house divided and these tensions are ensuring that bad decisions and coercion from the top aren't hidden any more. It is clear that there are people in the ANC's National Leadership who are extremely concerned with managing the media and public perceptions ahead of the ANC National Conference in December and that they are now running scared of the possibility that an independent-minded SABC Board would complicate their well-laid plan...one can only assume that it is the faction that is currently in power in the ANC who are desperately trying to cling to that power and hence engaging in these outrageous manoeuvres.

The whole SABC Board selection process has been compromised.

The UDM calls for the entire process to be scrapped and started from scratch. We need to start afresh and ensure that - as the Constitution demands - Parliament as the legitimate representatives of the people choose the SABC Board and not a shadowy, unelected and indeed unaccountable - cabal in ANC Headquarters or anywhere else.

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