STABILITY FOR THE SABC AND SUPPORTING INSTITUTIONS DEPENDS ON STABILITY IN THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNICATIONS
The SOS Coalition notes President Zuma’s appointment of the Honourable Yunus Carrim as the new Minister of Communications. We further note with great concern that this will be the fourth such appointment since 2009 in a Ministry beleaguered by instability and controversy over its leadership and delivery of the critical imperative of ensuring all South Africans have access to robust, reliable, affordable access to quality public broadcasting and secure ICT services in order to advance socio-economic development goals.
The Coalition has repeatedly reminded the President and government that stability in the SABC and all other supporting institutions are essential for them to deliver on their public mandate and be accountable to the public, government and the Ministry. Without consistent and accountable political leadership from the top, the SABC and all other ICT institutions cannot hope to be rescued from the mire of mediocrity and underperformance that they have been trapped in for years, or stand even a fighting chance at delivering on and exceeding their respective mandates. Already we’ve seen massive increases in private subscription TV and commercial radio listenership that threatens the future of the SABC as a mass public broadcaster with dire consequences to public interests.
Accordingly, the SOS Coalition welcomes Minister Carrim’s acknowledgement of the need to stabilize the SABC and the ICT sector as a whole as a matter of urgency. We fervently agree with his declaration that “there is no reason why we cannot move with due expedition. We have these huge challenges and limited time so we cannot afford not to move fast.”
South Africa cannot afford any further delays in the migration from analogue to digital terrestrial television, nor can we see any delays in the long awaited and, now, underway ICT policy review process which promise to create a progressive, inclusive and enabling policy framework that all South Africans will be able to derive maximum benefit from.
The Coalition further welcomes the Minister’s recognition that this is not something neither he nor government can do alone, but requires actively inviting and considering the contributions of all stakeholders. As with every Minister before, here too the SOS Coalition will continue to make its contribution and engage the Minister of Communications on giving substance to the State and government’s duty to realize real, broad-based and meaningful access to information through innovative and citizen-oriented public broadcasting and ICTs as a whole.
We request to meet with the Minister at his soonest convenience to further the above.
The SOS Coalition represents a broad spectrum of civil society stakeholders committed to the broadcasting of quality, diverse, citizen-orientated public-interest programming aligned to the goals of the SA Constitution. The Coalition includes a number of trade union federations including COSATU and FEDUSA, a number of independent unions including BEMAWU and MWASA; independent film and TV production sector organisations including the South African Screen Federation (SASFED); a host of NGOs and CBOs including the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) and Media Monitoring Africa (MMA), and a number of academics and freedom of expression activists.
For more information contact:
(074) 690 1023
Sekoetlane Jacob Phamodi