SABC news editor in chief Phathiswa Magopeni has accused the ANC of political interference in the public broadcaster. Magopeni was previously issued with a written warning after failing to stop the broadcast of an interdicted Special Assignment episode.
Magopeni is in the hot seat again for filing a complaint against SABC chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini and SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe. In the letter, she complains about Makhathini and Mxakwe’s alleged interference in editorial policy and how they allegedly sided with the ANC after she submitted to the IEC that the ANC had breached the electoral code of conduct.
Magopeni alleged that senior ANC officials, including Jessie Duarte and Fikile Mbalula, have intimidated and verbally abused SABC journalists.
This includes an example where Duarte allegedly accused the SABC of being biased against the ANC during last year’s local elections. [Duarte] started by saying: ‘We’ve been monitoring and watching you. You’re anti-ANC, you hate the ANC, and your coverage has been biased against the ANC.’” alleged Magopeni in her letter.
“She further said that I had de-campaigned the ANC during the local government elections campaign. She told me she had spoken to the board about my conduct. Magopeni also stated that Mbalula had instructed her to change headlines that were being run.
She alleged that she contacted Mxakwe and Makhathini about this incident, but instead of defending her and the SABC, the pair discussed the matter with the ANC and relayed what the ANC wanted her to do.
Because she did not comply, Magopeni alleges that Mxakwe and Makhathini began to sabotage her Mbalula has denied that the ANC is involved in the charges that have been laid against Magopeni.
Media Monitoring Africa director William Bird previously spoke to Newzroom Afrika about Duarte and Mbalula’s conduct around Magopeni and the SABC. If they had a legitimate concern, the easy thing to do would be to go and report that at the time of the elections,” he said.
“To come now, and to do it in a public forum, and to go then specifically and approach the head of news and attack her … that looks like something a lot closer to interference and intimidation.” That kind of thing from the ANC is completely unacceptable,” he added.
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