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SABC still reviewing Icasa order over editorial policy

The broadcaster said it was prepared to challenge the order in the highest court of the land.

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

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) says it is still in the process of reviewing an order by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa), to withdraw a ban on airing footage of violent protests.

The communications authority made the ruling this week, giving the SABC seven days in which to respond.

The broadcaster, however, said that it is prepared to challenge the order in the highest court of the land.

Eight journalists are facing disciplinary action after they questioned the editorial policy changes.

SABC spokesperson, Kaizer Kganyago, says it is an employer-employee matter and outside parties should not be commenting on the issue without knowing all the facts.

"People who make pronouncements when they have not even seen what they're being charged for. They made assumption of what they're being charged for and made it as if it's the truth. Isn't it the policy of the SABC that people aren't allowed to speak to the media?"

Kganyago says they are reviewing the matter.

"Let us allow the internal processes of the SABC to happen without interference and then at the end you know all the facts and then you can make your comments."

CRISIS AT THE SABC AHEAD OF ELECTIONS

With crucial municipal elections just three weeks away, pressure is mounting on Parliament to intervene in the crisis at the SABC.

The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) said that it has asked National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete to urgently convene the communications oversight committee.

Earlier this month, a similar request by the Democratic Alliance (DA) was turned down.

House chairperson in charge of committees, African National Congress Member of Parliament Cedric Frolick, told the DA that matters would be dealt with only when Parliament reconvenes after the elections.

Casac's Lawson Naidoo said that while Parliament was in recess ahead of the municipal polls, this did not absolve it of its duty.

"Casac has written to the Speaker requesting that the portfolio committee be reconvened now as a matter of urgency."

Naidoo said that the Broadcasting Act gave Parliament the authority to call Muthambi and the SABC board to account, with the power to dissolve the board if necessary.

"We are in a crisis situation and Parliament needs to step up to the plate, to defend the interests of ordinary South Africans that need a public broadcaster that provides fair and objective coverage of news events as they happen."

Naidoo said that the SABC was failing to live up to its constitutional mandate as a public broadcaster and that this had implications for the freeness and fairness of the local government elections.

He said that while the ANC was free to discuss the problem, it was only Parliament that had the power and authority to ensure that citizens' confidence in the SABC was restored.