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NGOs, media & unions to lead protest against SABC policies

A protest against censorship & political meddling at the public broadcaster is set for Friday.

Members of The Right to Know Campaign gathered in front of a SABC building in Sea Point. Picture: Shamiela Fisher/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - A protest against censorship and political meddling at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) is being planned for Friday.

Several civil society organisations, journalists and unions intend protesting recent developments at the SABC, which have led to the resignation of acting CEO Jimi Matthews and the suspension of three staff members.

As organisers finalise arrangements for the demonstration in Johannesburg, there are also moves to hold a solidarity protest in Cape Town.

SABC Chief Operating Officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng reportedly told staff during a meeting at the broadcaster's headquarters in Auckland Park yesterday to effectively fall in line or get out.

He was quoted in The Star newspaper as having allegedly told employees: "If you are at the SABC, there is leadership, and if the leadership says you must turn right, you must turn right. If you turn left, you must get off the bus."

But Motsoeneng is facing resistance on a wider scale, as civil society organisations mobilise support for staff.

The SOS Coalition's Sekoetlane Phamodi said: "We will support from behind and alongside the workers in their actions. We will ensure that we rally our support base."

Tuwani Gumani, the general secretary of the Media Workers Association of South Africa, said that the big issue was the independence of the SABC, and that Motsoeneng was a symptom of that problem. "There's no room, there's no law and no order at the SABC except the word of Hlaudi Motsoeneng."

The demonstration will pull together various groups worried about dictatorial leadership and censorship at the public broadcaster.