Presidency disputes reports that Monare is being targeted

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Presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya has disputed reports that South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) Head of News Moshoeshoe Monare is being targeted ahead of the 29 May general elections.

Magwenya’s comments follow a City Press article that Monare is under scrutiny for the negative publicity against the African National Congress (ANC) leading up to the elections.

This was reportedly after what is purported to be a leaked audio recording of ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa’s plans during a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting that the party would challenge any negative reporting by media houses.

Magwenya says Monare’s vetting process was requested by the SABC only because his security clearance was not completed after joining the public broadcaster in 2022.

“Upon his appointment, Mr Monare gave consent to the vetting process and completed the form that was furnished to him, and went further to submit some but not all of the information that was required. The process was stalled when Mr Monare did not want to submit himself to a polygraph test which is part of the vetting process.”

Presidency Spokesperson Vincent Magwenya hosts a media briefing to update the public on the President’s public programme and interact with media on other related topical issues in the country: 

‘Polygraph test’

Speaking on the SABC’s News Channel, Monare has questioned who made the decision that he be called to take part in a polygraph test at the State Security Agency – just weeks before the elections.

Monare has reiterated his position that he does not have a problem with the vetting of senior staff at the public broadcaster.

“Whatever we do in our newsroom is in the context of media freedom, and therefore I did not understand why State Security agents would want to conduct a polygraph test on me. And even then, I said to them, can you put in writing, the rationale, the reasons, and who made the call? The supervisor or that agent, called me to say look, the client – not us as State Security – made that kind of call. It’s not us. And I said who is the client? I’m still waiting for that answer to say who is that client who made that call.”

SABC GE for News and Current Affairs Moshoeshoe Monare on vetting of SABC Executives

‘Strange policy’

Meanwhile, the Executive Director of the Campaign for Free Expression Professor Anton Harber, says that Monare’s independence is of critical importance.

According to Harber the presidency saying that Monare is not targeted is not enough.

“It’s good that they say he’s not being targeted, but I don’t think it’s enough. What they need to do is call off the SSA, and re-look at the strange policy that requires journalists to be subjected to scrutiny by the SSA, intrusive scrutiny, unnecessary scrutiny, and what looks because of the timing- suspiciously like pre-election harassment. It comes two years after he joined the SABC, and started the job, it comes shortly after this incident where SABC ran audio of the president speaking behind closed doors when he was saying that they’re going to challenge any media that’s too critical of the ANC.”