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ANC's Mthembu hits back at SABC board chair

Mthembu said the SABC board had failed in their duty to consult the one body that really mattered.

YouTube screengrab of ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu.

JOHANNESBURG - The African National Congress' (ANC) Communications Commission chairperson, Jackson Mthembu, said that if his party and the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) board cannot get along, then the only option is for them to divorce.

Yesterday, SABC board chairperson Mbuhaleni Maguvhe claimed that the party had only criticised the SABC's decision to ban the broadcast of images of violent protests because its members wanted the corporation to collapse, so they could buy its assets.

But Mthembu was furious at Maguvhe's claim.

"There's no ANC leader who would like to deprive the SABC. More importantly, ANC leaders would like the SABC to retain its mandate as a public broadcaster," Mthembu said.

And he said Maguvhe and the SABC board had failed in their duty to consult the one body that really matters.

"The only avenue of consulting our people will be on a matter that affects them, will be the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa."

He said that it was clear the party would not allow the SABC to contravene the Constitution.

Maguvhe said he believed the ANC only attacked COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng and the broadcaster yesterday because some of the party members have business interests that would benefit from the collapse of the broadcaster.

He also claimed they wanted to buy parts of the national broadcaster if it failed completely.

Maguvhe defended the decision to ban the broadcast of images of destructive protests, saying that they did have evidence that they were correct after having consulted the kings of the Vhavenda and the AmaZulu.

He claimed that Jackson Mthembu only attacked his board yesterday because some ANC members had financial interests in the collapse of the SABC.

"Some people who are members of different political parties, including the ANC, want to see the SABC collapsing. If they say it lacks leadership, what do they mean?"

And he said that he had consulted widely when deciding to ban the images of these violent protests.

"For instance, the king of the Vhavenda is unhappy about such footage. The king of AmaZulu and other stakeholders are also unhappy. We did contact stakeholders about this matter."

Maguvhe was unrepentant, saying they were doing the right thing and that they were not censoring people.

SA ARTISTS BACK HLAUDI

A group of South African artists in support of Motsoeneng said they would protect him from anyone who threatened his position at the broadcaster, including the ANC.

The group picketed outside the SABC's offices in Auckland Park interrupting an anti-censorship demonstration happening at the same time.

While they are calling for Motsoeneng to be protected, the South African Communist Party (SACP) and other organisations said that he needed to be fired.

The president of Musician's Association of South Africa, Tebogo Sithathu, said that any attack on Motsoeneng was an attack on artists.

"People that are against him and his spot must shut up. They never spoke out when we were suffering as South African musicians."

But the SACP said even that though Motsoeneng played a role in increasing the local content quota on SABC stations, he was not the Messiah.

The party's Solly Mapaila said: "Hlaudi Motsoeneng must go. He has failed."

The two sides faced-off as they sang and picketed outside the SABC office.

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