JOHANNESBURG – The presidency has expressed concerns about the utterances of the group of South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) journalists called the “SABC 8” labelling routine operational meeting between the Presidency and SABC "injudicious."
It said the journalists objected to a recent stakeholder meeting that took place between the Acting Head of News at the SABC and the Presidency.
“The Presidency is surprised and concerned by the utterances of the group,” said the president's spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga.
Ngqulunga said he met with the Acting Group Executive News, Kenneth Makatees, and National TV News Editor and then Acting Head of TV News, Nyana Molete, at the request of the SABC team.
“The “SABC 8” says in their statement that the routine operational meeting between the Presidency and SABC was "injudicious" and that the SABC Acting Head should "exercise more circumspection in the future and protect the newsroom from perceptions of bias,” Ngqulunga said.
He said the group further called on Makatees to make the minutes of the meeting public.
“The posture of the “SABC 8” group of journalists raises serious questions as it gives an impression, that in their view, the Presidency should not meet with or talk to SABC journalists.”
He said the Presidency is not clear therefore on how the “SABC 8” intend to obtain information from the Presidency if they regard meeting the Presidency and talking to officials from the Presidency as being “injudicious.”
The Presidency has since also raised concerns about the impact of the posture in the SABC newsroom, and the possible intimidation of professional and independent journalists.
“We trust that journalists at the economics desk for example, who report to one of the members of the “SABC 8”, will not feel duty bound to avoid speaking to the Presidency or to cover the Presidency in deference to the public position taken by their supervisor.”