In a letter from its CEO Dali Mpofu,the SABC has cut ties with the SA National Editors' Forum. He objects to Sanef's support for the SABC over its use of the medical files of the Health Minister, and says the organisation has reached a consensus around a conservative ideology.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â The M&G has published an edited version of the letter.
Our breakfast meeting last Tuesday, 21 August 2007 refers. I have since been contemplating your request for the SABC to restore its active participation in Sanef ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦
I indicated to you that despite our strong objections to some of the stances previously taken by your organisations (sic), especially those individuals who can clearly be identified with the dominant right-wing conservative wing of your organisation, my personal belief was that in the new democracy, it was incumbent on all who treasure our freedom not to leave any uncontested space for those who seek to undermine or misrepresent it. I added that the time for boycotting these institutions was over and that it was a duty of democrats to populate and transform them.
After outlining some of the frustrations we experienced in the past with the unfair and sometimes malicious treatment of the SABC at the hands of your organisation and your members, I accepted your assurances that your new leadership intended to transform the organisation for the better and in turn I promised to revert to you with a considered view as to the extent and nature of our future participation in or cooperation with Sanef ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦
Coincidentally the period of my own contemplation of our discussion as well as consultation with the Group Executive Committee coincided with some disturbing developments on the side of your organisation, yourself and the mainstream of your membership core, particularly around the matter of the actions of Mondli Makhanya (pictured below) and the Sunday Times regarding the medical records of the Health Minister. This episode has unfortunately rubbed salt into the wounds which characterise the relationship between our two organisations.
Literally on the day of our breakfast I saw you, acting in your capacity as Sanef Chairperson, on our evening SABC television news unconditionally justifying the appalling behaviour of the Sunday Times, presumably including their participation in or benefiting from the theft of medical documents ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦
The following day, Monday, 27 August 2007, happened to be our monthly Group Executive Committee meeting. I raised the issue of our future participation in Sanef and received the unanimous view that we should terminate and withdraw from any remaining or possible future relationship with Sanef. This was in line with my recommendation to that effect. This decision was yesterday conveyed to and received the full support of our Board.
It is clear that Sanef has reached some consensus around a particular conservative, self- serving ideological position on the issue of the role of the media in our society. It is a consensus which is diametrically opposed to our stance, which is based on a contextual interpretation of our Constitution and the values underlying our Bill of Rights, which form the foundations of our freedom and our hard-won democracy. The nonsensical view that the media is absolutely "free" to trample the privacy and dignity of any citizen offends against the SABC's own values. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦
As Editor-in-Chief of the SABC it is my duty to inform you that we will no longer stand idle whilst we are being made a whipping-boy and a scapegoat by the profit-driven media. Even less are we prepared to associate with the enemies of our freedom and our people. We cannot remain quiet while our mothers and our democratically chosen leaders are stripped naked for the sole reason of selling newspapers. This in Women's Month, nogal.
When you and the Raymond Louws of this world justify criminal theft you must know that you are NOT speaking for the SABC and the majority of South Africans. The same people who at the beginning of the year were frothing in the mouth about how soft the Government is on crime are now flag bearers for the theft of medical records, which might actually result in endangering a human being's life and her future treatment! How inhumane and how far removed from the basic value of Ubuntu. Shame on all of you, especially those who have turned their backs on your own cultural values for 30 pieces of silver, pretending to be converted to foreign, frigid and feelingless "freedoms".
The parameters of our freedom will be determined by the people who brought that freedom about and not the apologists for those who inherently resent it and its foundational values.
Please note that our decision to break ties with your organisation is based on the epidemic deterioration of journalistic ethics within your ranks and disrespect for our people. The decision is with immediate effect and will stand until such time that you address these issues openly and to our satisfaction.