SABC rejects Mbalula's claims of 'ruthless' reporting on ANC

ANC head of elections Fikile Mbalula at the official announcement of the 2021 local government election results in Pretoria.
ANC head of elections Fikile Mbalula at the official announcement of the 2021 local government election results in Pretoria.
Image: Freddy Mavunda

The SABC has rejected attempts by Fikile Mbalula to blame the public broadcaster for the ANC's poor election performance.

It said that this attempt by the ANC's head of elections to scapegoat the public broadcaster for the party's poor performance was concerning as no formal complaint had been received on its coverage.

This comes after Mbalula on Thursday went on the offensive, attacking the SABC for having shows that led to a low voter turnout and, subsequently, the ANC's loss of key municipalities.

In Gauteng the ANC has lost all three metros — Tshwane, Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni — to the DA, aided by the EFF, ActionSA and other opposition parties.

Mbalula singled out the SABC's Service Delivery Gauge, a show that looked into the performance of municipalities in providing basic service delivery. He said the show ruthlessly attacked the ANC, making SABC the party's “big problem” in the election. He said the SABC ran a “campaign” which led to South Africans deciding not to cast their votes on November 1.

Service Delivery Gauge also put the ANC on the “back foot”, according to Mbalula, as it focused only on the failures of ANC-led municipalities.

"[Only] after the election that's only then you go to the Western Cape's Khayelitsha where the DA governs ... After the elections. How long have I been waiting for you to get to Western Cape with Gauge? You never arrived there.

“You were in all these majority municipalities and showing our weakness. Fine and good ... I even said to her [SABC head of news Phathiswa] Magopeni, 'Leave it to the voters.' She said, 'Do your job, I'm doing my job'. I said, 'Fine, very good. I'll do my job to the best of my ability against a ruthless SABC attacking the ANC left and right'," Mbalula said.

He accused the SABC of using the show as a “mouthpiece” for the opposition parties after taking a certain posture against the ANC.

“The media's job is to be independent, impartial and that is what we understand but in this particular instance it didn't happen. And no doubt you have aided in the negative mood, and you have aided the campaign of people not coming out in their numbers to vote. Because the mood was at an all-time low.

“How do you tell a person to go and vote when there is a campaign on television every day that is running 'I'm not going to vote'," he said.

In response, the SABC rejected the claims, saying the public broadcaster covered the elections fairly.

“SABC management rejects minister Mbalula’s allegations in the strongest terms,” the public broadcaster said in a statement. “The public broadcaster believes that this scapegoating of SABC News is unacceptable and disrespects the SABC’s role as an independent public broadcaster fulfilling its constitutional duty.

“The SABC reiterates that should any political party have a complaint about any aspects of the SABC’s coverage they are encouraged to follow the established regulatory avenues available.”

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