2nd Floor, 20 Baker Street, Rosebank, Johannesburg, 2169

Condemnation of State Security Agency’s Attempt to Vet SABC Head of News

5 (2)

28 April 2024

South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF), Media Monitoring Africa (MMA), SOS Support Public Broadcasting Coalition (SOS) and the Campaign for Freedom of Expression (CFE) —express our grave concern over recent revelations in the City Press (28 April 2024) regarding the State Security Agency’s (SSA) attempt to yet again vet, Moshoeshoe Monare, the Head of News at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

This move by the SSA undermines the fundamental principles of media and editorial independence and freedom of the press. While the SABC may be a deemed a Critical Infrastructure in terms of the Critical Infrastructure Act, the Act is focused on the vetting of security personnel and not journalists.

While parliament did not accede to our requests during deliberations on the Bill that SABC journalists were to be specifically excluded, it is clear from the definition and aims of the Act that journalists are not included, and that vetting is for security personnel only.

Despite the clear threat to media freedom that the request to vet Monare poses, it is mind boggling and ridiculous that the request should come when the head of news has occupied the position for nearly two years! It is even more worrying that it comes just a month ahead of elections.

As organisations committed to upholding media freedom, journalistic integrity and safeguarding the public’s right to accurate information, we condemn this action unequivocally.

Accordingly, we call for immediate action:

1. SABC Board: As the body responsible for the SABC, we urge the SABC Board to publicly condemn any interference in its editorial processes and to uphold their responsibility to protect the independence of the SABC. The Head of News must be shielded from external pressures and political interference and be allowed to perform his editorial duties without fear or favour.

2.Minister in the Department of Communication and Digital Technologies (DCDT): We call upon the Minister to publicly denounce this attempt to compromise media independence. The DCDT plays a crucial role in ensuring a free and vibrant media landscape, and any actions that undermine this must be addressed promptly.

3. Presidency: We implore the Presidency to join us in condemning this intrusion into the SABC’s affairs. The public deserves transparency and accountability, and we expect the highest office in the land to uphold these principles.

During an election period, it is even more critical that media are able to perform their duties without fear and intimidation. A politically compromised media is at risk of undermining a credible, free and fair election. We need to ensure, at all costs, that media, especially the public broadcaster are protected from any form of intimidation and threat.

We demand that the Minister and the Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, identify the person (s) responsible for this interference and commit to swift disciplinary action. Those who seek to undermine media freedom must be held accountable.

For more:
Reggy Moalusi – SANEF – +2771 682 3695
William Bird – MMA – +2782 887 1370 or Thandi Smith +2773 470 7306
Uyanda Siyotula – SOS – + 2760 691 2462
Anton Harber – CFE – +2783 303 9497