The DA has been reliably informed that some SABC staffers, including the Acting Head of News and the National News Editor, have been summoned to President Jacob Zuma’s office.
The meeting is said to be taking place this afternoon at the office of the Presidential Spokesperson and Head of the President’s Private Office, Dr Bongani Ngqulunga.
This summoning of SABC staff by the Presidency is highly irregular and frankly, quite suspicious.
While from time-to-time, the Presidency is indeed permitted to interact with journalists from all media houses, including the SABC, such meetings occur following a process of request, not summoning, and happen at the SABC’s offices.
The SABC does not report to the President and cannot be “summoned” by him or his staff.
Also, the timing of the meeting is very suspicious given the delay in President Zuma’s appointment of the SABC board, which is now a week overdue.
The President has a well-known penchant for capturing independent public institutions and recently lost control of the SABC with the appointment of the interim board earlier this year, following the firing of Hlaudi Motsoeneng.
With the SABC being without a board, the President has created conditions ripe for capture. The DA will not stand by while the President attempts to re-capture the SABC.
The DA will now raise these allegations in the Communications Committee in Parliament tomorrow. We will request that Dr Ngqulunga provide a report to Parliament about the reasons and nature of the meeting.
Parliament is the right body to deal with this matter given that the President’s role relating to the SABC is limited to approving Parliament’s recommendations of individuals to serve on its board. Parliament is the body the SABC and its board report to.
The DA will request that this and the matter relating to the delay in the appointment of the SABC board be raised sharply with the President.
The SABC is a public broadcaster mandated to educate and inform without fear or favour, not to be a mouthpiece of the Presidency, ANC and/or its factions.