A television advertisement – paid for by the DA ahead of next month’s general elections – has sparked controversy after the SABC took the decision to ban the ad on account of its damning stance towards the ANC. The South African public broadcaster claimed that the commercial “incites violence” and alleged that it breaks the code of conduct it abides by.
The “ANC Ayisafani” (“It’s enough, ANC”) ad, which features Mmusi Maimane, DA candidate for the position of Gauteng Premiere, in dialogue with his own mirror image contains controversial quotes and remarks directed at the ANC and its recent policies, including the mismanagement of the 2012 massacre at the Lonmin Marikana mines as well as allegations of corruption and cronyism.
“There have been some great leaders, leaders that have taken this country forward. You voted for them. But since 2008, we have seen President Jacob Zuma’s ANC, an ANC that is corrupt, an ANC for the connected few. It’s an ANC that is taking us backwards.”
Maimane explained that he was unhappy with the SABC’s decision to pull the advert: “The reasons advanced by the SABC are spurious and almost certainly illegal. This is a transparent attempt by the SABC to protect Jacob Zuma from any public accountability for the Nkandla scandal.”
The DA added in response that statement is would seek legal action to combat the ban. Last week, the DA had already successfully won another court battle in its current publicity campaign following its Nkandla text message campaign.
“The DA will fight this censorship. We have already briefed our lawyers this morning, and will begin legal proceedings to overturn this decision immediately.”
The SABC reacted by saying that the commercial contained false information, as the Nkandla report, which was also mentioned in the advert, “has not yet been tested and confirmed in a court of law”. Furthermore, the South African public broadcaster stated that the Code of Advertising Standards of South Africa (ASA) does “not permit attacking another product to promote your own”.
A statement by the SABC reads: “we do not have any concern about generic statements regarding matters such as corruption or service delivery but do not believe that is correct to pin such issues on any specific person, whether the president or anyone else.”
The ad was apparently taken off the air by the SABC’s chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng. Motsoeneng, however, doesn’t appear to have much power or clout to back up his decisions, after he was named and shamed last month for lying about his qualifications and educational background.
A report by the Public Protector’s office had concluded that Matsoeneng should never have been appointed for a senior position at the beleaguered SABC after making up his matric certificate. Not a stranger to abusing his power, Motsoeneng had fought long and hard for the details of the report to remain hidden while he was still under investigation, with those testifying against him in previous hearings being immediately dismissed from office.
Despite the evidence against him, Motsoeneng remains in office to this day.