Co-founder of the Right2Know Campaign Dr. Dale McKinley says the SABC’s sacking of its Head of News Phathiswa Magopeni will hamper its efforts to restore its credibility.
Magopeni was fired on Friday after being found guilty of misconduct last year for failing to ensure that a court order was complied with regarding an interdicted Special Assignment programme.
In a statement, the public broadcaster says that Magopeni was afforded an opportunity to submit mitigating factors, but she failed to do so.
Magopeni has been given until midday on Monday to hand over all SABC property in her possession.
She says she intends to legally challenge her dismissal.
McKinley says they are concerned about the latest developments at the SABC.
“I think it raises doubts because if you look at the last few years, much of damage that has been done during the previous administration was being dealt with including internal policy and appointments and the coverage of the local government elections. And I found the atmosphere to be very, very enabling of different voices and different perspectives. Now, if we are having a situation where there is what looks like political interference once again raising its head, there might be disagreements between the head of news and management and that’s ok, we can work those things out because it’s a public broadcaster.”
In the video below, SABC confirms Magopeni’s axing:
A few stakeholders in the media industry have since reacted to the news of Magopeni’s axing.
Head of Media Monitoring Africa William Bird says allegations of political interference at the SABC need to be taken seriously and must be properly investigated.
He says Magopeni’s axing with immediate effect signals a breakdown of trust, adding that it is important that Magopeni’s point of view is also heard.
The Campaign for Free Expression (CFE) has also expressed concern.
Executive Director Anton Harber says, “I think that in context this is a very concerning development. The context is that the SABC has in the past few years stabilised itself and asserted its independence and under Magopeni re-established the credibility and trustworthiness of its news product. And this also comes shortly after she comes under personal attack from key ANC leaders and she has herself complained of editorial interference by the people who are firing her. So, in that context, it is a very concerning moment for SABC News.”