SABC Election debates - political violence ensues, DA requests banning of ANC
Ian Davidson, Chief Whip of the Democratic Alliance
16 March 2009
The Democratic Alliance will write today to the Managing Director of News and Current Affairs at the SABC, Dr Snuki Zikalala requesting that the ANC be banned with immediate effect from taking any further part in the SABC Election debate series. This request follows the violent conduct of ANC supporters at an election debate held last night at the University of Johannesburg.
During the course of last night's debate, ANC's supporters completely flouted the organisers instructions; firstly by bypassing the check-in procedure (which was followed by all other political parties represented in the debate) and then by intimidating DA members. As a number of DA supporters took their seats, they were actively blocked from doing so by ANC supporters who sang - "block them this side, block them that side, we want to kill these dogs". Once the debate had begun, the taunting continued with one ANC supporter attempting to physically assault the DA supporter sitting near to him.
When the debate had ended, the ANC's conduct degenerated even further. DA members were confronted by a group of ANC supporters outside the auditorium, which led to a DA member being attacked with PVC pipes. The attacks continued, with a further DA supporter, Sasekisa Mabasa being hit on the head with a brick. Mr Mabasa was subsequently taken to hospital in for order x-rays to be taken of his head injury. A charge of assault relating to this incident will be lodged with the SAPS once the medical report is completed
The conduct of the ANC at last night's debate is not only criminal, but also completely undermines a free and open electoral process. If it is tolerated it will make a mockery of holding such forums and will ultimately endanger the prospects of a free and fair election.
The SABC's failure to take strong action against AZAPO after that party's supporters stormed the stage during a debate held in Port Elizabeth has only served to create a climate in which certain parties think they can get away with acting in a thuggish and criminal manner. If the SABC does not send an unequivocal message that such conduct will not to be tolerated, there is every chance that someone will end up being seriously hurt or worse and by then it will be too late to act.
The DA is also considering laying a charge in terms of the Electoral Act against the ANC.