SABC given ultimatum over suspended employees

The broadcaster has been given until tomorrow to respond to requests to reinstate suspended employees.

FILE: Former Cosatu General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi at a picket outside the SABC offices in Auckland Park calling for an end to censorship. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Organisations lobbying against censorship at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) have given the public broadcaster until tomorrow to respond to their request for the immediate reinstatement of a group of employees.

The employees are facing disciplinary action for allegedly contravening the SABC's disciplinary code.

The seven employees were suspended for questioning editorial decisions, including the ban of violent images during protests.

While there has been widespread condemnation of the SABC's treatment of the workers, it says it has the right to take action against employees who contravene its code.

Organisations want to know by tomorrow whether the broadcaster will comply with their demands for the reinstatement of the suspended employees.

The SABC's Solly Mapaila said that even though SABC representatives refused to receive a memorandum of demands, the organisations would find a way of delivering it to management.

"Hlaudi I can tell you, you'll receive million memorandums."

While the African National Congress has said it will have a meeting with Communications Minister Faith Muthambi on Monday to discuss issues at the SABC, calls have been made for the meeting to take place sooner, as the broadcaster is expected to go ahead with disciplinary hearings tomorrow.

ICASA EXPECTED TO RULE ON EDITORIAL DECISION

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) is today expected to rule on the SABC's decision to ban the broadcasting of footage of the destruction of public property during protests.

Lobby groups lodged a complaint with Icasa over the SABC's decision, which they say amounts to censorship.

As the deadline approaches for Icasa's ruling, calls for the SABC to reverse the editorial decision have escalated.

Following civil society pickets, marches and petitions, the SABC will today know whether its editorial changes are in line with Icasa's code of conduct.

The Save Our SABC Coalition, which is one of the organisations that laid a complaint against the SABC, said it was confident that Icasa would rule in favour of the South African public.

The organisation's Sekoetlane Phamodi said: "We fully expect that Mr. Motsoeneng and his team will lose abjectly."

The public broadcaster however was adamant that its decision not to broadcast the violent protest footage was in line with the requirements of the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa.