702 stands by decision to end #LumkaOliphant interview

Social Development spokesperson Lumka Oliphant refused to speak in English during an interview on with Radio 702's Xolani Gwala.

Social Development spokesperson Lumka Oliphant.

JOHANNESBURG - 702 has defended the decision to end early an interview with Social Development spokesperson Lumka Oliphant on Monday morning.

Oliphant was on air to speak to breakfast show host Xolani Gwala about the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) and the payment of grants from 1 April.

When Gwala asked Oliphant whether Treasury would approve the latest deal between Sassa and Cash Paymaster Services, she replied in isiZulu.

The talkshow host then asked her to respond in English "for the benefit of all my listeners".

When Oliphant refused to agree to Gwala's requests he ended the interview.

LISTEN: Xolani Gwala's aborted interview with Social Development spokesperson Lumka Oliphant.

The broadcaster says it "remains committed to the promotion of a diversity of languages and this is a topic that is often discussed on the 702 platform."

It has also noted that Oliphant had previously spoken in isiXhosa when she was interviewed by Gwala's colleague Eusebius McKaiser. On that occasion, the interview was then translated.

Station manager Thabisile Mbete says this time around the Oliphant was given "ample opportunity" to make special requests.

"We felt that in this instance, Oliphant had been given ample opportunity to request an interview in another language, as she had been in discussion with the producers of the show since Sunday," says Mbete.

"If she had made this request ahead of time, we could have allocated additional time to the interview, to allow Xolani to translate."

Mbete also notes that Oliphant had conducted an interview with another broadcaster in English, before speaking to Gwala.

"Immediately prior to the interview with Xolani, she had conducted another interview in English, on SABC’s Morning Live and we feel that her decision to speak in isiZulu was nothing more than an attempt to obfuscate the actual issue under discussion.”

The incident has sparked much debate on social media networks, with many people criticising Oliphant, while others have defended her.