DA wants SABC to air 'packaged video' of Maimane responding to Ramaphosa

In response to President Cyril Ramaphosa's announcement about land expropriation without compensation in his capacity as ANC president on SABC last week, the DA sent a "packaged video" of its leader Mmusi Maimane to the public broadcaster.

"We will give the SABC until midnight on Wednesday, 8 August 2018, to air this packaged content. This is not just about the content of the broadcast but the principle that the public broadcaster must uphold," said DA MP and spokesperson on communications Phumzile van Damme.

She said in a statement on Monday that this was in response to the SABC's "refusal to grant the DA's request for a right of reply to the ANC president, Cyril Ramaphosa's, recent late-night announcement that his party supports land expropriation without compensation".

On Tuesday evening, the SABC aired a packaged video of Ramaphosa speaking about the outcomes of the ANC's lekgotla. He announced, among other things, that the ANC would support an amendment to section 25 of South Africa's Constitution to "explicitly" expropriate land without compensation.

READ: President Cyril Ramaphosa's full speech here

"This is highly irregular and unacceptable for the public broadcaster to accept a packaged video from a political party, to interrupt normal programming to air the recording, and then deny opposition parties the opportunity to do the same," said Van Damme. 

"The explanation that this package was intrinsically newsworthy is dishonest because had that been the reason, they would have aired it as part of a news bulletin and not a special broadcast.

"This points to a public broadcaster that is pandering to the views and opinions of the ruling party."

Complaint laid with broadcasting body

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago was unavailable for comment on Monday afternoon.

The SABC said in a statement last week that it, like other media institutions, received a recording of Ramaphosa's address in his capacity as the president of the ANC, and it was not the only media house to broadcast the address. 

"The SABC made an editorial decision to broadcast the address as it was deemed newsworthy," the statement reads.

"To alleviate the DA's concerns, it is imperative to note that the SABC, as a responsible public service broadcaster, made efforts to deliver a balanced story by soliciting reactions from other political parties, including the Democratic Alliance. In fact, the Democratic Alliance represented by the spokesperson for the leader of the DA, was on Morning Live today [Wednesday] responding to this story."

This didn't wash with Van Damme.

"Having the DA leader's spokesperson on Morning Live the following morning to provide comment, is simply not enough. In order to ensure fair and 'equitable coverage' the SABC has a duty to air the video package the DA has sent, to provide the public with adequate knowledge on the matter of land expropriation," she said.

"A failure to do so, speaks to a lack of understanding of the SABC's duty and responsibility as the public broadcaster. Major political parties should enjoy 'equitable coverage' on the SABC, particularly when it comes to matters of national importance."

Van Damme said the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa has received their complaint.

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