North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo has “suspended” ties with the SABC amid claims he was getting preferential treatment from the broadcaster’s provincial unit, his spokesperson said on Tuesday.
“The office of the premier has, as a result of these unfounded and fabricated claims, decided to suspend its working relations with the SABC, this to afford the corporation time to investigate these allegations,” Brian Setswambung said.
City Press reported claims that Mahumapelo was getting excessive coverage and was telling the SABC’s provincial unit how stories about him should be reported on.
Setswambung said the premier was shocked by allegations that he interfered with the broadcaster’s editorial policy.
He said Mahumapelo always made himself available for interviews, even allowing reporters to go off topic at press conferences.
Mahumapelo wrote to the SABC about these allegations, and the broadcaster indicated it would investigate.
The suspension meant Mahumapelo would not comment on stories when asked by the SABC in North West and would not be available for interviews, he explained. It would not apply to other media platforms, locally or nationally.
“The decision to suspend the relations is to curb further encroachment accusations, against the premier, on the corporation’s editorial policy, whilst the investigation is being carried out.”
Setswambung said Mahumapelo indicated in his letter to the SABC that he respected press freedom and had not taken the action to harm press freedom.
“He is disturbed by these allegations and wants them resolved,” he said.