The Congress of the People is hopping mad at the SABC’s refusal to cover live the launch of its election manifesto at the weekend, writes Nkululeko Ncana in The Times,

Sipho Ngwema, spokesman of the breakaway party, said yesterday that the public broadcaster had ‘‘buckled” under ANC pressure not to broadcast the event — expected to be attended by 60000 supporters — live.

‘‘This is not an editorial decision, it’s a political one,’’ said Ngwema.

But the SABC says the Cope launch does not qualify in terms of the corporation’s new policy of granting live television coverage only to parties with a more than 1 percent representation in the National Assembly.

Spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said: ‘This is nothing personal. All we are saying is that we will not be able to do the live broadcast. But their event will be covered, hence we are sending journalists there.”

Kganyago said the election manifesto launch of Bantu Holomisa’s United Democratic Movement, outside Soweto tomorrow, would be broadcast live on TV. It was not clear whether such coverage would be granted to the Pan Africanist Congress manifesto launch in Butterworth, Eastern Cape.

Earlier this month, the SABC broadcast the ruling ANC’s manifesto launch in East London live for almost three hours on TV and radio.

The Cope rally, to be held in KwaZakhele in Port Elizabeth, will be addressed by party president Mosiuoa Lekota and other former ANC and government leaders.

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