The public broadcaster announced this week that it had made a decision to stop broadcasting violent protest so as to discourage people from burning down public property.
“The SABC has made a decision that it will not show footage of people burning public institutions like schools in any of its news bulletins with immediate effect. We are not going to provide publicity to such actions that are destructive and aggressive,” the SABC said in a statement.
“As a public service broadcaster we have a mandate to educate the citizens and we therefore have taken this bold decision to show that violent protests are not necessary,” SABC Chief Operations Officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng was quoted saying by The New Age.
There have been a number of protests in the country, which have led to property being burnt or damaged. The most recent was the burning of more than 20 schools in Vuwani, Limpopo.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) says they will be taking legal action against Motsoeneng. “The reason Motsoeneng is allowed to make this absurd decision is as a result of the new SABC editorial policy approved in secret by Minister of Communications Faith Muthambi and the SABC board in February this year,” the DA said in a statement.
They believe that such decisions should be made by editors and not by the management of a broadcaster.
“It is basic principle in many news organisations worldwide that editorial decisions should be made by news editors, and not politically-appointed management, in particular, in order to insulate news decisions from any commercial or political considerations.”
They added that it was clear that Motsoeneng was using the SABC editorial policy to deliver on the task to fully turn the SABC into a propaganda portal for his political masters at Luthuli House.
The Economic Freedom Fighters also condemned the action, saying the broadcaster merely took the decision to protect the ANC.
Additional reporting: The New Age, EyeWitness News