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By Citizen Reporter


‘Clear political influence from ANC’, says Sanef after SABC News boss sacking

Sanef has slammed the SABC for firing its group executive of news and current affairs, Phathiswa Magopeni.

The South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) has expressed concern over “political interference” at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

The SABC on Friday confirmed the sacking of its group executive of news and current affairs, Phathiswa Magopeni with immediate effect.

The announcement came after Magopeni was found guilty of misconduct last month for failing to stop the broadcast of an interdicted episode of the SABC’s current affairs programme, Special Assignment. 


In a letter addressed to the SABC board, dated 29 November 2021, Magopeni claimed that the Special Assignment issue was being used to “hound” her out of the public broadcaster even though she was not responsible for the airing of the programme.

She reportedly accused SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe and board chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini of allegedly putting pressure on her to approve an unscheduled interview with ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa in the lead-up to last month’s local government elections.

ALSO READ: ‘I fear for my life,’ says SABC news chief after accusations of hurting ANC’s electoral showing

Magopeni apparently refused the request from her bosses and got into hot water over the issue.

She claimed the Special Assignment error, her refusal to agree to the Ramaphosa interview, and a subsequent complaint from the ANC about the SABC’s election coverage, were being used to get rid of her.

‘Political interference’

Sanef said that it was saddened by Magopeni’s axing, further suggesting that the SABC’s decision was politically motivated.

“Magopeni confidently contends that her sacking is directly linked to her refusal to take instructions from her bosses.

“This pattern needs to be condemned because it makes a mockery of labour laws and associated processes. It also leads to a mistrust of our public institutions and denies the public broadcaster their constitutionally protected freedom of media.

“An environment where people can be fired following political interference by the ANC-influenced elections campaign leads to self-censorship and restrains journalists and media workers from the freedom they need to do their job,” non-profit organisation (NPO) said in a statement on Saturday.

READ MORE: SABC rejects Mbalula’s claims that it acted against ANC during local elections

Sanef argued that Magopeni has been treated unfairly by the SABC as “they continued to ignore her submissions to their various nefarious intents”.

“The SABC management and board, since making the announcement to charge Magopeni, has carried itself in a questionable manner that has not only been disheartening, but has also put a negative dent on the reputation of the public broadcaster.

“It’s unfortunate that the gains made in recent years since Magopeni assumed the leadership of the news team are now being taken backward, by a management team that wants to see the news division led asunder with clear political influence from the ANC,” it added.

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