Stunning SA High Court ruling reveals SABC cranking up propaganda for Robert Mugabe
26 January, 2011 12:23:00
Zimbabwe Mail Correspondent
JOHANNESBURG – In stunning revelations that directly implicates former South African President Thabo Mbeki on the Zimbabwean political crisis, a South Gauteng High Court judgment ruling has revealed "unlawfully manipulating" of news items on Zimbabwe’s 2005 elections and blacklisting certain commentators perceived to be anti-Robert Mugabe.
Yesterday, a High court judge in Johannesburg ruled that the SABC was guilty of manipulating the news in 2005 and 2006, in a ruling that will boost criticism of the way the South African public broadcaster covers politics and cranked up the propaganda for Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe.
Judge Neels Claassen ruled in the South Gauteng High Court that there had been widespread manipulation of news under the SABC’s former head of news, Snuki Zikalala, and that Mr Zikalala had "dishonestly tried to cover up this manipulation".
With political interference and the hand of President Jacob Zuma clear in the appointment of Phil Molefe as Mr Zikalala’s replacement, Judge Claassen’s remarks are yet another reminder of how easily the SABC can be used as a political weapon by the government of the day.
Court affidavits by former SABC head of radio news Pippa Green and John Perlman, a former presenter on SAfm, documented interference by Mr Zikalala in day-to-day operations at the SABC.
Mr Zikalala went to Zimbabwe for the 2005 elections to negotiate the terms of SABC’s coverage, contrary to normal procedure. He warned reporters at a meeting the day after the elections he would "take action" against Ms Green and any reporter who expressed an "opinion" on Zimbabwe.
The judgment relates to Mr Zikalala’s 2006 blacklisting of analysts critical of former president Thabo Mbeki, and the SABC’s coverage of elections in Zimbabwe in 2005.
The ruling comes on the back of a recent finding by a London based African think-tank Africa Confidential which implicated Thabo Mbeki in the Zimbabwe vote rigging that kept Robert Mugabe in power after losing first round presidential polls in 2008.
According to London-based think-tank Africa Confidential, former opposition MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai "clearly beat Mugabe" in the first round of voting in March 2008 but was denied power after a plan to steal some of his votes allegedly hatched by Zanu (PF) military junta in connivance with South African officials.
"Taken by surprise, Zanu (PF) delayed announcing the results for six weeks while it concocted a strategy for clinging to power (possibly with South African connivance)," the think-tank said last week. The official results published by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) in May 2008 showed that Mugabe had lost the first round of elections to Tsvangirai but by a narrow margin.
Zanu (PF) bullyboys were then unleashed for the second-round run-off held in June of the same year and Mugabe claimed a dubious victory after Tsvangirai was forced to quit the race. A brutal campaign of violence led by Zimbabwe’s military out to reverse Mugabe’s shock first round defeat left at least 200 MDC-T supporters dead.
Mbeki, who was the official Southern African Development Community (SADC) mediator in Zimbabwe’s political crisis between 2007 and 2009, never questioned ZEC’s delay in announcing the first round poll results and the subsequent violence that accompanied the run-off. In May 2008, South Africa ganged up with Russia and China to block an American and British-backed proposal to impose sanctions against Zimbabwe over deadly electoral violence.
Pretoria – which as regional power broker has significant influence on international opinion on Zimbabwe – insisted the electoral violence in Zimbabwe was an internal matter that had no impact on regional peace even as it struggled to handle the thousands of refugees that were flocking from its northern neighbour.
Mugabe, who was forced to form a power sharing government with Tsvangirai after the international community including some of his African allies refused to accept his bloody re-election victory in 2008, has already indicated that fresh elections should be held this year.
A referendum on the proposed new constitution that should pave way for enactment of the new governance charter is only expected around June or four months after expiry of the life of the unity government. The former opposition and SADC say this year is too early for elections in a country where the voters’ roll remains chaotic and inaccurate while an exercise to write a new Constitution that should ensure a free and fair vote has been delayed by several months and even then continues to progress at a snail’s pace.
Mbeki’s successor President Jacob Zuma said SADC should help Zimbabwe to craft a roadmap and favourable conditions to make sure outcome of the next election would not be contested. The election roadmap includes adopting a new Constitution, drawing up a fresh voters’ roll, an end to political violence and passing of new electoral rules by Parliament.
The army is already deploying and harassment of MDC-T activists is warming up.
Africa Confidential however contends that keeping the enthusiasts on a leash for at least a year will be hard, not least on Zanu (PF)’s strained financial resources. "Targeting humanitarian aid and agricultural inputs directly to the beneficiaries has eliminated the local party chiefs’ patronage and their ability to skim and profiteer. By getting the economy going and education and health back on their feet, the MDC has made the peasantry less beholden to Zanu (PF)," said the think-tank.
Donors have since the formation of the coalition bypassed official government channels to provide aid directly to the beneficiaries.
» » » » [Zimbabwe Mail]
Press Club calls for probe into SABC affairs
Jan 26, 2011 12:48 PM
Sapa / TimesLive
The government should urgently appoint a commission of inquiry into the SABC following this week's court ruling on political interference at the public broadcaster, says the National Press Club.
"The South African public needs answers and rightfully demands an honest, clean and transparent public broadcaster," said club chairman Yusuf Abramjee.
On Monday the High Court in Johannesburg handed down judgment on a review of the Independent Communications Authority of SA's (Icasa) claim that it did not have jurisdiction over how the SABC made its programmes.
The case was taken to the court by the Freedom of Expression Institute.
Noting that the judgment accused former head of news Snuki Zikalala of "unlawfully manipulating" news items on Zimbabwe's 2005 elections, and blacklisting certain commentators to silence critical voices, Abramjee said the matter was of "serious concern" and needed to be fully investigated.
"We applaud the court for ordering [Icasa] to reopen its investigation into alleged political interference at the SABC, after an appeal by the Freedom of Expression Institute, but we need more.
"We now need government to appoint a commission of inquiry."
Zikalala was not immediately available for comment, but Talk Radio 702 reported him as saying he still had to read the judgment before commenting.
The National Union of Metalworkers of SA said the judgment was a victory for the working class.
It said that during Zikalala's time, stories on matters raised by either their union mother body the Congress of SA Trade Unions or the SA Communist Party that were deemed critical of the economic policies of former president Thabo Mbeki were thrown out.
Former SABC CEO Dali Mpofu suspended Zikalala but Mpofu was then suspended for suspending Zikalala.
Both have since left the corporation. After a brief stint with a new CEO and board, the broadcaster is once again in the process of appointing a new board and CEO.
SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said the SABC was not involved in the court case, so it would not be considering an appeal against the ruling.
However, it would study the judgment and decide how to proceed.
A spokesperson for Icasa was not immediately available to comment.
» » » » [TimesLive]
Meanwhile TRC FRAUD critics in SA's concourt still remain censored
CCT # 06-11: Concourt to review SANEF censorship of TRC Fraud & Ecolaw Media Corruption
CCT # 06-11: Concourt to review SANEF censorship of TRC Fraud & Ecolaw Media Corruption
Why We Are White Refugees
Constitutional Court, Johannesburg (21-Jan-2011): On 19 January 2011 the Concourt Registrar Mr. Delano Louw issued the Concourt Reference Number CCT 06-11, in the matter of Radical Honesty SA and others vs. SANEF and others. The Concourt had been submitted with Proof of Service documentation proving that Radical Honesty SA had provided all the respondents with their Notice of Motion and Founding Affidavit documentation.
The Applicants in the matter are Lara Johnstone and Radical Honesty SA, who filed an Application with the Constitutional Court for direct access, as a Pauperis Propria Persona / Litigant in Person; for a [I] writ of Habeus Mentem and [II] writ of Certiorari/Review.
The Application was filed against 88 respondents: (a) three administrators of the SA Press Council; (v) SANEF and its chairman: Mr. Makhanya, (c) 36 SANEF and related media publications and their respective editors, managerial officials; (d) eight Media Professors from Univ. of Rhodes and Wits Journalism faculty departments; (e) Media Monitoring Africa: Mr. William Bird; and finally (f) Projourn Steering Committee.
The Respondents are as follows:
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