SABC lays complaint against ANC heavyweight after election fight

After an alleged confrontation with SABC journalists, the public broadcaster has laid a complaint against ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte at the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

“The SABC can confirm that it has indeed lodged a formal complaint to the IEC on Ms Jessie Duarte’s treatment of its journalists,” the Sunday Times quoted Gugu Ntuli, head of corporate affairs at SABC, as saying.

According to the Sunday Times, the complaint was brought by Phathiswa Magopeni, SABC editor-in-chief and head of news, who herself was charged with negligence and damaging the broadcaster’s reputation this week.

The charges against Magopeni were brought following the airing of a Special Assignment episode that was blocked in court by urgent interdict.

She has denied any involvement in the episode’s airing and is expected to report for a disciplinary hearing in December.

Reports indicate Duarte and Magopeni clashed at the Pretoria IEC election centre over how the SABC covered the ANC in the lead-up to the 1 November elections.

The SABC had also allegedly declined several ANC requests for interviews on the public broadcaster.

Soon after the altercation, Magopeni was informed about the charges against her relating to the airing of the interdicted Special Assignment episode. She reportedly disclosed the incident with Duarte to her bosses before she was charged.

Phathiswa Magopeni, editor-in-chief and head of news at SABC. Source: Acumen

ANC head of elections and transport minister Fikile Mbalula had criticised the SABC’s for airing segments about poor service delivery in South Africa, saying it contributed to poor voter turnout.

However, Mbalula denied the party’s involvement in the charges laid against Magopeni.

Media Monitoring Africa director William Bird spoke to Newzroom Afrika about the allegations raised by the ANC.

“If they had a legitimate concern, the easy thing to do would be to go and report that at the time of the elections,” he said.

“To come now, and to do it in a public forum, and to go then specifically and approach the head of news and attack her … that looks like something a lot closer to interference and intimidation.”

“That kind of thing from the ANC is completely unacceptable,” he added.

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SABC lays complaint against ANC heavyweight after election fight