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EFF calls for eNCA boycott over 'racist treatment' of black journalists

eNCA political reporter Samkele Maseko has accused the broadcaster’s news boss Kanthan Pillay of censorship, unfair treatment, and racism.

Former eNCA political reporter Samkele Maseko. Picture: @samkelemaseko/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG – The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on Thursday condemned 24-hour news channel eNCA for its alleged “racist treatment of African journalists”. The EFF released a statement on Thursday following controversial claims of bias reporting, censorship and racism by the channel’s recently resigned political reporter, Samkele Maseko. Maseko made the allegations on social media.

“The EFF condemns these actions as a sign of total deterioration of leadership, principles and ethics within the eNCA. In fact, when it comes to the EFF, the institution has become personal,” said EFF national spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi in a statement.

Maseko, who resigned from eNCA this week, took to Twitter on Wednesday and alleged that shortly after submitting his resignation letter, the broadcaster’s news boss Kanthan Pillay approached him at his desk and told him to immediately pack his things and leave the building.

Pillay is the founder and leader of the Capitalist Party of South Africa, which contested the general elections in May. He was appointed at eNCA late this year after the sudden death of its director of news, Ben Said.

Maseko said he felt like he was treated like he had “stolen something” and was denied a chance to serve his notice period. He went on in a series of tweets to accuse Pillay of censorship and “settling political scores” by dictating what goes on air on eNCA.

Maseko at first responded to a tweet by Pillay on Tuesday - which has now been deleted - saying: “rats swimming toward a sinking ship - #EarlyXmasGift”. He told Pillay to call his own family rats and not Back African children, and continued with a series of allegations against Pillay. Other tweeters including former eNCA journalists and others saw Pillay's tweet as an insult to Maseko after his resignation from eNCA to join SABC News.

SANEF ‘DEEPLY CONCERNED’

The EFF also said in its statement it found it “shocking how silent and completely absent” the South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) was dealing with eNCA and its abuse of journalists.

But, in a statement on Thursday, Sanef said it was “deeply concerned” by the allegations of censorship against Pillay, saying the claims went against the principles that the forum upholds.

Sanef called on eNCA "to immediately get to the bottom of these allegations".

“Sanef will, therefore, write to eNCA management to request a meeting and to seek clarity on Pillay’s position,” the forum said in a statement.

“We welcome the fact that Maseko has agreed to approach Judge Kathleen Satchwell and the Media Ethics and Credibility Inquiry to discuss these issues further.”

eNCA JOURNALIST ALLEGEDLY SUSPENDED

eNCA at the weekend pulled out from covering the conference in solidarity with some media organisations, including the Daily Maverick, that were not given accreditation to the EFF's congress.

In its statement on Thursday, the EFF said it was informed that eNCA placed its reporter, Khayelihle Khumalo, on suspension for tweeting about the EFF’s elective conference from his personal account.

The EFF said eNCA's withdrawal from covering their conference should be seen as an attempt to silence the party.

“It is a fact that the eNCA was always looking for a way to avoid covering the EFF Second NPA [National People’s Assembly]. This is because from day one, when all other broadcasters built set onsite, eNCA never built a set or brought any technical equipment signifying their full commitment to cover the EFF Second NPA,” the EFF said.

The red berets also called on South Africans to boycott eNCA.

“No one must call an African child a rat in our country and it just becomes business as usual.”

Attempts to contact eNCA have not been successful. Calls to its editor have gone straight through to voicemail.

eNCA has also not publically responded to the allegations made by Maseko yet.

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