The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) notes the findings and recommendations of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into interference in the Decision-making in the Newsroom of the SABC between the years 2012 and 2017.
We note the chilling findings that the “SABC suffered from the capricious use of authority and power to terrorise staff and to deflect the Corporation from its mandate and its Editorial Policies” and that the Inquiry panel, “found an organisation crippled by anger, fear and frustration”.
- You can download the report of the commission here:
We also note the finding that, “a witch hunt for enforcers will not heal the SABC” and that no “direct link” was found between instructions from ANC headquarters, Luthuli House and the SABC newsroom.
While we respect the finding from Dr. Joe Thloloe that there was no evidence of direct political interference from ANC headquarters, we note with concern his utterance that the “spectre of the ANC hovered over the newsroom.” We thus implore the new custodians of the SABC newsroom to safeguard the public broadcaster from any political, commercial or private interference in the future. Concrete mechanisms must be implemented to ensure this.
SANEF notes a number of positive recommendations. For instance, we welcome and applaud the suggestion that the Group Executive: News should be designated as Chair of the Editorial Policy and Ethics Committee and that this position should report to the GCEO. We welcome the recommendation that this committee becomes the highest point of upward referral for editorial line managers and that it should uphold the Editorial Policies and the highest editorial and ethical standards.
We also believe that the suggested creation of a News and Current Affairs Advisory Committee is positive, “consisting of at least three people, for example, a retired editor, a person who is or was teaching journalism ethics at a tertiary institution, and a retired judge”. We believe that the establishment of these committees will go a long way to maintaining editorial integrity at the public broadcaster and that they will ensure that journalists have a place to go when interference creeps in.
We commend the SABC Board for approving the Report and look forward to the corporation finalizing its Editorial Policies before the end of September 2019.
We wish the SABC strength and every success as it takes steps to implement these recommendations. We need the SABC to deal decisively with its past editorial woes.
For more information please contact:
Mahlatse Mahlase – SANEF Chairperson, 083 399 2852
Sam Mkokeli – SANEF Media Freedom Chairperson, 082 084 2051
Judy Sandison – SANEF KZN Convenor 082 571 3334
Kate Skinner – SANEF Executive Director 082 926 6404