The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) is calling on the SABC to ensure a fair and transparent disciplinary process against its GE of News Phathiswa Magopeni.

This was after Magopeni was reportedly charged by the public broadcaster for alleged negligence and bringing the public broadcaster into disrepute.

It relates to the airing of a Special Assignment episode, the SABC had been interdicted from broadcasting.

SANEF says these developments come on the back of political pressure and attacks on Magopeni from the ANC, which accuses her of being the cause of the governing party’s poor electoral performance in the recent Local Government Elections.

SANEF statement on the matter:

The SABC’s Group Executive of Corporate Affairs and Marketing, Gugu Ntuli, has declined to comment on the matter.

SANEF’s deputy chairperson Adriaan Basson, “We don’t deny that the SABC has to take action against the Special Assignment matter but we do find it curious that this comes just a few days after very blatant and misplaced attacks by politicians like Fikile Mbalula on Phathiswa in regards to how the SABC has covered the elections and in light of potential political interference at the public broadcaster. We are asking the SABC to open up Phathiswa Magopeni’s disciplinary hearing to the public so we as the media can follow it and ensure that nothing untoward is happening in this case.”

Mbalula on SABC contributing to lower voter turnout

The African National Congress’s head of elections, Fikile Mbalula, says he stands by what he said about the SABC contributing to low voter turnout during this month’s Local Government Elections.

He was responding to criticism by the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) for what it called an attack on the public broadcaster for its coverage of the elections.

Mbalula has accused the SABC of not showing the good side of the party and only focussing on negative service delivery issues in the municipalities the ANC ran.

Mbalula says he was merely stating the party’s view on the public broadcaster’s coverage of the elections.

“I said I raised those issues during the campaign with Phathiswa and then she disagreed with me and said exactly what she said today in a letter and I was responding to Ntebo Mokobo when he asked that question on behalf of the SABC. Now for SANEF to suggest that I attacked the editor of SABC is disingenuous and at best it’s a shot that is actually fired in a misdirected way, and I think a debate is a debate, they don’t have to agree with what I said and is for everybody to judge and I’m not saying entirely the ANC lost precisely because of the SABC, I’m saying the SABC played a part.”

SABC rejects Mbalula’s claims

The SABC rejected allegations by Mbabula that the public broadcaster’s coverage of the local government elections was to blame for low voter turnout and the ANC’s poor performance in several municipalities and metros.

The SABC says the ANC has not submitted any written evidence to substantiate the allegations.

“SABC management believes that SABC News covered these elections in line with its Editorial Policies and ICASA’s election regulations. SABC management, therefore, rejects Minister Mbalula’s allegations in the strongest terms. The public broadcaster believes that this scapegoating of SABC News is unacceptable and disrespects the SABC’s role as an independent public broadcaster fulfilling its constitutional duty,” says the public broadcaster in a statement.

The SABC has reiterated that should any political party have a complaint about any aspects of the SABC’s coverage they are encouraged to follow the established regulatory avenues available.