Johannesburg : February 17, 2005


The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) has requested this meeting with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) to discuss and elaborate on our concern that we are not receiving fair and non-discriminatory treatment from the SABC.

As the public broadcaster, the SABC has a statutory responsibility to provide balanced and fair coverage to all political parties. Our engagement today is intended to be a positive gesture, with the intention of finding positive solutions to our concerns.

Not only is this of immediate importance to the IFP, but we contend that this is also the raison díÍtre of what it means to live in a democratic and free society in which a diversity and multiplicity of viewpoints are both heard and expressed.

This is of particular relevance in a society in which the voice of the majority was brutally and systematically silenced and that it is seeking to eradicate from its midst the apartheid legacy of totalitarianism, prejudice and racism.

The IFP concerns are:

i. The coverage of the IFP in Parliament is woefully inadequate for the nationís third largest political party. There is a distinct lack of coverage of IFP leadersí statements in reaction to spokespersons of the government and ruling party.

ii. The coverage of IFP meetings, conferences, rallies and forums is scant and often non-existent.

iii. There are rumours that SABC staffers have been instructed to downgrade and not even cover the IFPís political activities. We seek an unequivocal clarification on this issue.

iv. The launch of the African National Congressís (ANCís) election campaign in 2004 was covered live on television and radio. The IFP, like other opposition parties, did not receive remotely similar treatment.

v. Despite the IFPís strong presence in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, coverage of the Party and its leaders is usually patchy and inadequate.

vi. An example which can be cited was the SABCís failure to fulfil its undertaking to broadcast Prince Mangosuthu Butheleziís speech to the IFP General Conference last year.

vii. IFP government ministers in KwaZulu-Natal are not given the same treatment as ANC ministers, even when the SABC are invited well in advance and an offer of transport is made.

viii. When IFP events are broadcast, the commentary and voice over are often not objective and are biased against the IFP. Rather than simply transmitting the event in an unvarnished manner, a voice over often blocks out the event or speaker with a commentary or opinion.

ix. When IFP leaders and spokespersons are requested to give interviews, or participate in debates, they are usually only informed at the last moment. This means that is difficult for them to re-arrange their diary commitments and make the necessary logistical and transport arrangements.

x. More often than not IFP leaders and spokespersons are not even invited to participate in programmes, panel discussions, or to give their perspective on current affairs matters.

xi. Documentaries produced and transmitted by the SABC are often biased and prejudiced against the IFP. An example is MOLO-FISH, which simply focuses on the long history of the ANC. Another is the re-run of the nineties documentary, THE LINE which depicts the IFP as aggressive and violent. In the democratic dispensation, this can only reinforce political propaganda against the IFP.

xii. There is a clear trend that ANC supporters are being appointed as SABC staffers, thereby compromising the independence of the SABC as a non-partisan public broadcaster, thus running the risk of becoming a mouthpiece of the ruling-party.

xiii. In particular, the IFP is concerned that radio stations, such as UKHOZI RADIO, are appointing personalities and presenters who are well known for their political sympathies to the ANC, and antipathy towards the IFP. This is unacceptable in a democracy. The normal practice in most democracies is that presenters, at least, conceal their private political viewpoints.