Ms LL Van Der Merwe MP
Old Assembly Chamber
Honourable Chairperson, Hon Minister and Members of Parliament
As we reflect on the Budget and the work of this new Department and its entities, it is simply a case of “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”
An industry that contributes billions to our economy most certainly does not deserve this kind of confusion that has come to mar the split, of the former Communications Department.
But then again South Africa does not deserve the turmoil which continues to surround the entire “digital broadcasting” or DTT process. Nor do we deserve the unrelenting high cost to communicate. NOR does our young democracy deserve the threat of a state-controlled media tribunal.
We need to learn from history.
In 1977, government shut down two newspapers for reflecting the apartheid regime in a bad light. That was Black Wednesday. Instead of owing up to its own leadership failures, the then apartheid government simply blamed the media for exposing it.
Now, fast forward to 2015, and we have seen signal jammers being brought into Parliament. And as the shameful flames of xenophobia engulfed our country, the Deputy Minister of Police launched a scathing attack on local media, for their coverage of these attacks. President Zuma shared similar sentiments.
We are dangerously close to repeating history.
Minister Muthambi, you are set to soon revive talks around a state controlled media appeals tribunal. Let me state categorically today that the IFP will oppose such a move.
The majority of South Africa’s journalists are patriotic South Africans, working hard to build our country, not to tear it down. Such a tribunal will only be a good idea if you had a North Korean, Kim Jong Un style of approach, to the media, in mind.
Understandably, the IFP’s greatest concern remains with the SABC. It is a monument to the disaster of cadre deployment. Recent drastic changes have brought the Board and its functions under the direct control of the Minister.
And suddenly three Board members are removed.
But I am not surprised by the latest instability. As a Member of this Committee during the 4th Parliament I was part and parcel of appointing a number SABC Boards. Since 1994 the ANC in Parliament has hand-picked every SABC Board Member and every SABC executive.
Political interference has been built into the system and ruthlessly exploited.
This is exactly why no-one wants to apply to serve on the SABC Board any longer.
I am however surprised that the interference has come from a New Minister who always spoke truth to power in the 4th Parliament and gave both the SABC and its Executives a hard time. What has changed?
Hon Chair, I make the following observations –
Why does Mr Motsoeneng still enjoy wide political support, despite the Public Protectors report, despite the fact that there is such low staff morale at the SABC, witch-hunts and the fact that the broadcaster is again heading towards financial difficulties?
Is it correct to assume that Mr Hlaudi Motsoeneng is still at work, in defiance of a court imposed 60 day suspension? For who else would have tried to pull the plug on the live TV coverage of the DA congress?
Why is it that the SABC for example attends IFP events, yet nothing is shown on the main news channels? Is that not wasteful expenditure? And why then should IFP supporters contribute to the SABC coffers, through TV licenses, if their voices are not represented?
Hon Chair, in conclusion –
While the SABC is seen to be a state broadcaster, while the SABC is seen to be a mouthpiece for the ruling party, while the SABC is seen not to live up to its public mandate and does not treat opposition parties fairly, we will find it difficult to support this Budget.
South Africans deserves a Communications Department and an SABC that executes its duties, and spends its budget in line with its public mandate and in the interest of EVERY South African.
I thank you.
Hon LL van der Merwe, MP, on 082 729 2510
IFP Media, Parliament