In the past week eNCA has aired a film titled “Winnie” in which allegations are made against several high profile leaders. Subsequently the former Minister of Safety and Security has questioned why the filmmaker, Ms Pascale Lamche, made no effort to conduct interviews that would allow a right of reply.
The integrity of a documentary relies on its ability to provide balanced, objective and accurate information. To achieve this, the views of those interviewed must be interrogated, and where they are either substantiated or contradicted, that cannot be omitted.
In consideration of this, the IFP believes that the film “Winnie” cannot be classified as a documentary. It is a polemic, intended to create heated debate.
The problem is that the opinions of those interviewed were posed as fact, as though this were indeed a documentary. This misdirection is compounded by the fact that eNCA is a news, and not an entertainment channel.
The IFP therefore believes that eNCA has a responsibility to rectify any possible misinformation that has been conveyed through the film.
This includes the interview with Professor Anton Harber, former Editor-in-Chief of eNCA, who expressed his opinion that Inkatha was promoted by the apartheid government as an alternative to Mandela.
Professor Harber is a long-standing adversary of the IFP. During his days at the Weekly Mail, he pursued a rabid smear campaign to vilify Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, perpetuating every lie spewed by the propaganda machine.
His allegation now that the National Party Government was promoting Inkatha is undermined by the fact that the Government went into a bosberaad with the ANC, and not with the IFP, emerging with the understanding that anything the two organisations agreed on would be considered sufficient consensus. In other words, no one else mattered. The National Party was eventually swallowed up by the ANC.
It is unethical for eNCA to allow Professor Harber’s comments to go unchallenged simply because he served as Editor-in-Chief.
Ironically, after a screening of “Winnie” in 2007, an interview was conducted with Mrs Madikizela-Mandela in which she made allegations against Professor Harber and the Weekly Mail, stating that the Weekly Mail “did the job for Stratcom”.
Earlier this month, HuffPost South Africa posted a video clip of this interview, but then posted an unreserved apology to Professor Harber because “we failed to seek out comment from Harber… before publishing the untested allegations of Madikizela-Mandela” and “we failed to provide proper context to the history”.
HuffPost goes on to say, “The allegations made by Madikizela-Mandela were her opinion, and she did not produce any evidence to substantiate it. This was not communicated… and (we) should have reflected this.”
Exactly the same can be said for Professor Harber’s unsubstantiated allegations in “Winnie”.
The IFP calls on eNCA to show similar integrity when it comes to rectifying their own mistake.