SABC defends banning of DA advert

The SABC says it didn't do anything wrong when it pulled the plug on the DA's advert.

The SABC says it didn't do anything wrong when it pulled the plug on the DA's advert. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) told the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa)'s complaints and compliance committee that any political advertisement referring to the Nkandla scandal should not be allowed to be broadcast on its television stations, but rather on its radio platforms.

Icasa yesterday held the first leg of its public hearings into the SABC's decision to ban the Democratic Alliance's (DA) 'Ayisafani' election campaign advertisement.

The matter had to stand down close to midnight after the SABC struggled to convince the authority why the advert should not be broadcast.

The hearings will resume at 6pm today, allowing the SABC ample time to submit written arguments to Icasa supporting its case.

The public broadcaster said it acted in terms of its mandate and did nothing unlawful when it pulled the plug on the DA's advert.

The broadcaster argued the advert constituted an incitement to violence against police officers and attacked President Jacob Zuma without giving him the right of reply.

But the DA has accused the SABC of preventing legitimate criticism of the ANC and Zuma on an issue of public interest.

Icasa's committee is expected to hand down a ruling in the matter on Thursday.

Video: Banned DA advert.

The DA also said the decision to ban its advert was a drastic interference of freedom of speech.

The party's legal representative Steven Budlender has asked for the broadcaster's decision to be set aside.

"This is not just the SABC trying to regulate the DA's advert, it's in effect preventing them from broadcasting, and it's called a prior restraint because the adverts have been prevented from reaching the public."

But the SABC's Ronnie Bokwa said the opposition party's complaint should be rejected because it contravened the public broadcaster's editorial policy.

"The SABC acted in terms of its mandate and didn't act in any unlawful manner."


Meanwhile, questions are being asked about whether newspaper adverts and billboards for the South African National Defence Force (Sandf) could really be electioneering in disguise.

Over the last few weeks, the Sandf has placed several colour adverts in newspapers carrying pictures of the former and current heads of the force.

The DA's Mmusi Maimane said this campaign was electioneering.

"It's absurd that the Sandf would campaign at that level."

But the Sandf's Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga said that's not true.

"It had nothing to do with politics, but more with the defence force celebrating 20 years of its existence."

Brand expert Thebe Ikalafeng said the adverts don't seem to serve a purpose.

"If it's not a campaign to get people to have pride in the army."

He said they don't have a clear message.