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The South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) states categorically that the Constitution should be defended against those who, purportedly for the good of the nation, attack citizens’ right to know and see what is happening in South Africa, and globally.

SAICE expresses its utter dismay over what has occurred at the SABC and supports the journalists who have stood their ground against the blatant tampering with the Constitution, which includes media freedom, a freedom to report ethically, truthfully and without bias.

There is one thing that is a certainty in South Africa – never a dull moment! South Africa averted economic downgrade. And then something quite unexpected happened! On the announcement of the ANC metro mayoral candidates, protests erupted in Tshwane and surrounds – all because a ‘foreigner’ from KwaZulu-Natal was brought in to ‘mayor’ over local ethnic groupings. While all this was happening, SABC viewers only heard about this but were oblivious to the extent of destruction caused by burning buses and other vehicles, looting and killing of people – all for the good of the nation, according to the SABC COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, who has forbidden journalists to take any footage of these protests or report on the Right2Know campaign against the SABC. Those journalists who even questioned the decision were summarily suspended.

If we, as ordinary citizens and institutions, allow this to happen on our watch without defending the Constitution in which freedom of speech is ensconced, we will see the Bill of Rights, the Broadcasting Act and the Access to Information Act of 2000, corroded without consultation and at the whim of those who oppose these.

What has happened at the SABC over the past few weeks can only be described as shocking. A few weeks ago the COO has seemingly, without notice or consultation, announced that SABC radio stations would have to play 90% local music. Allegedly rival editors and journalists were blacklisted. Last week images of violence during protests were banned, and reportedly even negative news on President Zuma was to be disregarded.

What started out with radio stations being forced to play almost exclusively South African music, whether the listeners wanted it or not, has soon escalated to the visual where the viewers would not be able to see what they are entitled to watch. Perhaps the next step will be to prohibit people to go where they want to?

If we don’t make a stand, the ancient sage Hillel asked, “If not now, when?” – when it is too late?

Any person, company or institution relying on free flow of information from reputable sources will find it almost impossible to function if a group of people, or even one individual, puts a spanner in the wheels by changing an inherent right unilaterally to suit selfish or political goals. This is happening at the SABC right here, right now!

 

13 Comments

  1. Thank You SAICE, we stand together in saying “No to Censorship.”

    We must however fully support the SABC’s position on 90% local music played on our radio stations, this must be viewed as progressive and in promotion of our culture which mainly finds expression in music and literature (amongst others). The fact that indigenous languages are not spoken (excluding Afrikaans) or regarded as ‘odd’ in all influential sectors (including education, economy, public sector, etc) means that there’s lack of leadership in the country in this regard and therefore SABC’s intervention should be applauded, and the private radio stations should be encouraged to do the same. We accepted English being the medium of instruction at schools and in business due to its global appeal at the peril of indigenous languages. You can blame the apartheid government for many things but we can learn a lot from their preservation and promotion of culture, unashamedly; even to this day Afrikaans schools are still amongst the best performing schools.

    You go to public sector meetings where in many cases find that everyone in attendance can speak isiZulu or SeSotho, and not only do they speak only English but there’s a silent rule that only English will be spoken and nothing else or even worse those who can’t speak good English are considered not fit or qualified to be in attendance. This is not some small problem to fix hence drastic measures are needed to change the mindset, how do you go and consult the broader public on such matters?

    Media is the most influential tool and has been used by oppressive rulers to further their agendas, why can’t a democratically elected government use it for the broader good of the nation? We will preach societal transformation for generations to come if we do not acknowledge the importance of ensuring indigenous languages do find space within all important sectors of the country.

    SAICE should push for the inclusion of at least two indigenous languages in the engineering curriculum to ensure we better understand the society we plan to protect and serve.

  2. It is a basic right to know what is happening in the country as well as the world. Our economy depends on free trading without all the red tape stifling the economy the way it has been done for the past 20 years. Small business and entrepreneurs are being stifled and cannot make end meet costing our country dearly. This applies to musicians as well. More importantly the right of the consumer should be protected as well. We have a brilliant constitution and we should not allow forces with self interest at heart should not be allowed to erode it. The various legislations imposed on business is costing us as a country dearly. Where we need job creation we are achieving the exact opposite

  3. I support this campaign(no to censorship) and I respect the power of the journalist but on the other hand (broadly speaking), the broadcasting of strikes on my point of view has contributed to the abuse of the power of strike. People excel in actions if they know that they are being watched even if what they doing is wrong. I have been on strike and I have seen people gaining energy of destruction in the front of the camera which was not there before the journalist arrives on the scene.

  4. I fully agree with Ms Ashpole’s comments. The SABC’s manipulation of TV and radio to deliberately misinform the public is disgraceful and criminal. It should be redressed by the immediate firing of those responsible (including but not limited to Mr Hlaudi Motsoeneng) and their prosecution for their criminal actions.

  5. This type of maneuvering to censor what we see and hear is a cancer in our society and needs to be excised now. We as a nation can only function effectively if we have effective communication of what is good (and bad)in our country. We can then reinforce the good and work to change the bad

  6. My appreciation to the SAICE! I support this effort and agree that we need to make a stand now, as too much of what was given to this government have been neglected and left to fall into disrepair and the rest changed for selfish political reasons!

  7. Let me see if SAICE will censor me on this. @Marie Ashpole and @ SAICE you are turning into a right wing organization, and a political tool instead of an NGO. Let Right2know, SANEF and others right wingers handle SABC. You are not a media organization. I have seen promoting political organizations like the DA instead of promoting infrastructure development by Sector Departments and State Owned entities. SABC is not your place. Civil Engineering and construction industry is where you should be updating, informing and educating us. We need more information on and updates us on Medupi power station, Wild Coast toll roads,Moloto road, Gautrain, Lesotho highlands water Schemes, etc. Stop being a political tool against SABC and Hlaudi. Stop seeking attention. Let me see if you will censor me.

  8. A transparent and open democracy has nothing to hide and therefore no need of censorship. THE PEOPLE HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW.
    In the 21st century keeping news and reports from the general public does not prevent information from reaching the people via social media, unless we next have attempted censorship of the internet

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