The SABC has apologised to ANC MP and presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for the “recent mistakes on our news bulletins”.

The SABC believed that “these mistakes were demeaning” to Dlamini-Zuma, SABC acting group CEO Nomsa Philiso said in a statement.

“In early August this year when Dr Dlamini-Zuma’s name was spelled incorrectly, the SABC apologised and regarded this to be a human error. More recently, one of our news headlines referred to her as an ex-wife, rather than using her name. This was sexist and wrong. The flippant response from the SABC spokesperson [Kaizer Kganyago] when asked about this was equally insulting,” Philiso said.

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The SABC interim board and management viewed this matter in a serious light and were dealing with it with the “urgency it deserves”. The directors of the SABC had since instructed news management to investigate the matter thoroughly and urgently to get to the bottom of it and ensure that the SABC remained non-partisan.

The statement by the Kganyago would also form part of this investigation and both the board and management remained committed to taking whatever steps deemed necessary in dealing with both the “initial mistake and the consequent erroneous response”.

“As a public service broadcaster, the SABC remains committed to serving South Africa and the African continent diligently in fostering a non-sexist and non-racist approach to our coverage of events here and elsewhere as expected of us,” Philiso said.

On Saturday, the ANC Women’s League lashed out at the SABC, saying it had noted “with disgust” that the SABC TV news had “degenerated into being a proponent of patriarchy and cheerleaders of male chauvinism”.

Secretary-General Meokgo Matuba said in a statement that SABC TV News had lately been labelling Dlamini-Zuma “Mini-Zuma” and “Zuma’s ex-wife”. Dlamini-Zuma was a medical doctor, had served as the first female Chairperson of the African Union, was a former Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs, and Health Minister, and currently an MP in the National Assembly, she said.

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Dlamini-Zuma is one of several candidates vying to take over the ANC presidency from her former husband, President Jacob Zuma, at the party’s elective conference in December. She has the backing of the ANC Women’s League’s national leadership.

Asked to respond to the league’s allegations, Kganyago reportedly said the criticism of SABC TV news was just a part of the “silly season” leading up to the ANC’s elective conference. He said he was unaware of instances in which the SABC had referred to Dlamini-Zuma in the manner described.

– African News Agency