29 June 2023

SOS and MMA call for investigation into alleged SABC Editorial interference by Director Mpho Tsedu

SOS Support Public Broadcasting (SOS) and Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) are extremely concerned to learn of allegations of editorial interference at the SABC by newly-appointed Board member, Mr Mpho Tsedu and we call for this matter to be thoroughly and transparently investigated.


It is alleged that Mr Tsedu, in his capacity as chair of the News and Editorial Subcommittee has on various occasions interfered with editorial decision making by instructing the news team to cover certain stories and take some off-air. We understand that he also bypassed the Head of News and the SABC’s Editor in Chief, Mr Moshoeshoe Monare and requested the editorial staff to present plans for election coverage – which propelled Mr Monare to lodge a formal complaint with the Board.

If the allegations of editorial interference are found to be true, it would obviously be totally unacceptable for a Board member, who ought to be protecting the editorial independence of the SABC, compromise that independence. 

It is important to note that the Board primarily serves as an oversight body and generally has no role in day-to-day operations of the SABC. SABC’s operations, and news and current affairs in particular are guided by a set of editorial policies which commit the SABC to enforcing and adhering to the highest standards of ethical journalism. The Board must safeguard the SABC’s editorial independence and ensure accountability for compliance with and adherence to these editorial policies through the News and Editorial Subcommittee which, we understand, Mr Tsedu chairs.

According to the SABC’s Editorial Policy, and through the News and Editorial Subcommittee, the SABC Board is expected to exercise oversight to protect the public broadcaster’s editorial and programming independence as set out in the Editorial Policies; and further, to ensure accountability for the compliance and adherence with these Editorial Policies, taking into account that management retains operational responsibility for the enforcement of the policies across the Corporation.

Moreover, Section 1.4 of the Terms of Reference of the News and Editorial Subcommittee, that the purpose of the committee is inter alia to “defend the editorial independence of the news division and encourage the pursuit of excellence and of the highest professional standards.” Consequently, any attempt to interfere with editorial processes should be dealt with, with the utmost severity.

Therefore, we call upon the SABC Board to set up an Ad Hoc subcommittee (of which Mr Tsedu obviously cannot be a member) to launch an urgent investigation into the allegations of editorial interference as per the formal complaint submitted by Mr Monare. Further, Mr Tsedu should be requested to step down from his position as chair of the News and Editorial Subcommittee until the investigations have been concluded.

We further request that the findings of the Ad Hoc Subcommittee be published on the Corporation’s website for public transparency and accountability.

Editorial interference is a serious allegation with damning implications for the credibility, integrity and impartially of SABC News. Should Mr Tsedu be found guilty, strict and appropriate measures should be taken by the Board to limit any future prospects for an interference of this nature, including removing him permanently from the News and Editorial Subcommittee. 

South Africa is heading to national elections and the independence of the SABC is crucial. The SABC Board has an important role of shielding SABC’s independence not only from internal interference but more so from external political or commercial interests. SABC has spent the last 7 years carefully seeking to rebuild its credibility, independence and trust.  At a time when the SABC has a critical role to play, any effort to undermine editorial interference also undermines our democracy.

It is for this reason that the SOS Coalition has, on a number of occasions, already raised serious conflict of interest concerns regarding Mr Tsedu’s Board appointment after learning that Mr Tsedu worked as an advisor to the Deputy Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT) – precisely because we were concerned to ensure against potential politically motivated interferences. Following his previous public undertaking that he would resign from his DCDT advisory position, SOS has written to Mr Tsedu calling on him indicate whether he had fulfilled his promise to resign, but as of 29 June 2023 we have yet to receive an answer.

Further, SOS and MMA have called upon the Board to provide Mr Tsedu’s signed and accepted resignation letter (with proof of acceptance). In the name of public accountability, and particularly in light of the editorial interference complaint leveled by the SABC’s Editor in Chief, the Board must now take the public into its confidence and provide the public with proof of Mr Tsedu’s independence from the DCDT.

SOS and MMA reiterate that the Board should take urgent and stringent measures to deal with and safeguard the editorial independence of our public broadcaster from internal and external interference.

For more information contact:

William Bird

Director at Media Monitoring Africa (MMA)

082 887 1370

Uyanda Siyotula

National Coordinator at SOS Support Broadcasting Coalition (SOS)

060 691 2462