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SABC ignores ANC, favours Shikota - claim

NEWSWATCH: The SABC has been accused of ignoring the ANC gatherings in favour of Shikota, a new splinter group recently established by the ruling party's dissidents, according to yesterday's (Sunday, 2 November 2008) edition of The Sunday Independent.

Khotso Khumalo, spokesperson for the ANC's parliamentary portfolio committee, was quoted by the newspaper as saying: “We are upset that the ANC gatherings have been ignored while the national convention, because it appeals to sympathisers of former president Thabo Mbeki, is getting widespread coverage.”

Khumalo added: “It is also unprecedented that the mother of a former president is being used as an analyst on SABC. Why don't they use [Jacob] Zuma's mother or Ma Sisulu, or look for other veterans?”

Fierce critic

Khumalo, a fierce critic of the SABC board, reiterated the ANC's drive to get rid of the Mbeki-appointed board led by Khanyisiwe Mkonza. He was quoted as saying: “We are going to get rid of the board, they simply must go.”

Several attempts to get comment from SABC director of news and current affairs Snuki Zikalala and spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago proved unsuccessful. At the time of going to press, none of them had returned calls and voice messages and replied to emails seeking clarity on Khumalo's claims.

William Bird, executive director of the Media Monitoring Project (MMP) told last night, Sunday 2 November: “I would not really say that the media is biased against the ANC.

“The truth is that the media has been giving so much coverage to the events leading to the establishment of the new party, which is just normal and exciting as the country takes a new political direction. Even the SABC, which is usually seen as being close to the ruling party, has done well and given a massive coverage to the week-end national convention.

"Media's job to report"

“This is the first time in the country's history that the ANC is seriously being challenged and many people do not know how much power the new party has, so it is the media's job to report on these events in a balanced and fair manner.”

Analysts have estimated that the Shikota Express has been getting more than 20% of all current media coverage, but that number is expected to rise as the momentum builds ahead of next year's elections.

Weekend's news headlines such as ‘Shikota's big day', ‘The party is on', ‘Lift-off for Shikota party', ‘Shikota Express fires up', ‘New party to be formed', and many more clearly demonstrated that newsrooms and reporters went wild over the weekend, when an estimated 4000 delegates flocked to the Sandton Convention Centre to attend the new party's national convention.

Load of rumours

Meanwhile, suspended SABC CEO Dali Mpofu told The Sunday Independent that reports suggesting that he was asking R15 million payout to leave the SABC ‘peacefully' are nothing but a load of rumours.

“Why should I look for a settlement? I am receiving my salary, I have cases [against the SABC board] coming up in court contesting the actions against me…

“People are mischief-making. I have not made any demands,” he told the newspaper.

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About Issa Sikiti da Silva

Issa Sikiti da Silva is a winner of the 2010 SADC Media Awards (print category). He freelances for various media outlets, local and foreign, and has travelled extensively across Africa. His work has been published both in French and English. He used to contribute to as a senior news writer.

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