Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) condemns the latest illegal response by SABC management to summarily dismiss the 8 SABC journalists. The decision flies in the face of due process and the ruling by ICASA. To be clear they have been fired for showing legitimate dissent with a clearly offensive policy to ban coverage of protests. Then they exercised their rights to due process through appropriate legal avenues. For this they have been accused of their actions being “intolerable to management.”
In addition to the need to support those who have been dismissed we also need to see these actions by the SABC for what they are. Desperate acts of vengeance and an abuse of our legal system. How else can we understand these decisions which otherwise would be so patently unwise and unjust?
It is hardly surprising then that the SABC 8 have approached the constitutional court for direct access. When those in power seek to abuse the legal system to delay, obfuscate and evade accountability it is only logical that instead of having to wait years for justice to be done they can ensure if it seen to be done and thereby also minimize the damage caused. MMA is one among many who have been cited and we fully support the effort for direct access. In our case our interest lies in ensuring the protest policy is dealt with once and for all and removed!
It is clear that some within SABC management are intent on enforcing the protest policy and forcing compliance among staff at all costs and to hell with the consequences. The consequences are grave. In addition to the clear violation of the journalists rights, it has real impact on their lives and their families. In addition the action constitutes an indirect threat to any within the SABC who seek to show dissent. As such the consequences bring the SABC into further disrepute and undermine the credibility of all its services.
The time for all those who allow the SABC to continue down this path must come to an end. Those who advertise and thereby facilitate these actions that censor and undermine our democracy must take a stand. We can appreciate how difficult it must be to take a stand for the big brands, like Wimpy, Checkers, Vodacom, Clientele Life, Spur and more, but we would ask that they weigh the damage they do to their own brand being associated with and directly supporting censorship and undermining our democracy. Accordingly we call on all who advertise to take a stand, withdraw your advertising now. What you might lose in immediate terms you will gain many times over in brand integrity and respect.
As we seek to address the crises it is critical that those who seek to undermine and to censor and we know it is a handful of fascist leaning people, that they must know they take these decisions in their personal capacity and not in our name. Not in our public broadcasters name. Accordingly we should all demand that they are held personally liable for the decisions and countless other fruitcake legal garden paths they seek to follow. Not on our purse. We also need to ask advertisers if they are happy to fund the defence of censorship and illegal actions after all it is their money being spent.
Finally it is worth reminding the SABC management and those who have been taking these decisions that we are a democracy, and while their efforts to undermine our democracy will damage and hurt, the people will always win. Always.
For more information contact:
William Bird (MMA Director) – firstname.lastname@example.org / +2711 788 1278
Thandi Smirh (MMA Head of Policy Programme) – email@example.com / +2711 788 1278