Anti-sanctions group lodges complaint against SABC

By Justin Mahlahla

The Zimbabwe Anti-Sanctions Movement has written to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) complaining about biased reportage and coverage of the Zimbabwean story by the SOUTH AFRICAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION (SABC).

The organisation is duly registered in South Africa as a Civil Society Organisation.

In the letter, dated 23 February 2022, the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Anti-Sanctions Movement, Rutendo Matinyarare, also cites SABC’s Sophie Mokoena and Peter Ndoro for broadcasting unbalanced, one-sided, and biased narratives against Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwean government.

“This has been done mainly by Peter Ndoro and Sophie Mokoena who consistently advance a biased and false narrative against Zimbabwe by giving selective coverage only to anti-Zimbabwean political activists, while denying humanitarian activists that are pro-Zimbabwe and pro-Zimbabweans the right-of-reply.

“Over the years, we have seen anti-Zimbabwean activists like Hopewell Chin’ono, Nelson Chamisa, Tendai Biti, Fadzai Mahere, Peter Mutasa, the late Dewa Mavhinga (before he passed on); being given disproportionate amounts of coverage on SABC’s primetime to instigate serious and legally untested allegations such as that Zimbabwean government officials abuse Human Rights and loot state resources, without giving the officials the right to answer to those allegations,” says Matinyarare.

He also castigates the SABC for giving “airtime to Xenophobic activists such as Ike Khumalo, for them to spread hate speech against Zimbabweans to foment Xenophobia,” adding, “This has continued to happen even after the UN Human Rights Council declared the 20 years of US, EU, and UK sanctions on Zimbabwe illegal at international law and a violation of human rights (on the 28th of October 2021) because they deprive Zimbabwean citizens access to clean water, healthcare, emergency services, food and economic development which in turn displaces millions of refugees into the SADC region and South Africa in particular.”

Matinyarare further accuses the SABC of denying the Zimbabwe Anti-Sanctions Movement airtime to explain the impact of the illegal sanctions imposed on the country as well as the opportunity to correct the false narrative that has been advanced about Zimbabwean sanctions for over 20 years.

“For two decades, the SABC continue to give biased coverage to the beneficiaries of the illegal sanctions (the Zimbabwean opposition party MDCA, which is now CCC and their anti-Zimbabwe activists) to continue to advance disinformation on the causes of the crisis in Zimbabwe.

“The consequence of this manufactured consent and deliberate silencing of the alternative narrative on Zimbabwe by the broadcaster is that the false narrative has become dominant, and it has obscured the devastating impact of sanctions. which are a crime against humanity placed upon Zimbabweans and the citizens of the SADC region, who are affected by the displacement of the Zimbabwean refugees. In turn, this has misled the SABC audience in South Africa, SADC and the African continent to believe that Zimbabwe’s problem is an incompetent and corrupt government and not the sanctions. This has resulted in the increased vilification of the Zimbabwean government, which has led to the continuation of isolation and lack of solidarity for the Zimbabwean people by the international community, NGOs, and other humanitarian organizations,” Matinyarare contends.

He adds: “In essence, by SABC taking sides and censoring alternative views on Zimbabwe, while giving biased coverage to the anti-Zimbabwean false narrative from an opposition that called for the illegal sanctions on Zimbabwean civilians; the broadcaster is denying South Africa, SADC and international governments, parliamentarians, humanitarian groups, NGOs and the general public accurate and balanced information to make an independent choice on the Zimbabwean humanitarian crisis.

“It seems SABC is hell-bent on exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. which will inevitably displace more Zimbabwean refugees into South Africa to worsen the already volatile anti-foreign sentiment that the media house is fanning in the country.”

According to Matinyarare, the SABC and its directors are still perpetuating the total war of the apartheid State Security Council upon Zimbabwe, and other liberation movements in the region (including the ANC itself), to advance a neo-colonial agenda in the region.

“The question we ask is: Is this the mandate given to the institution by the South African Broadcasting Act of 1999? And if not, where are the members of this institution deriving their mandate?

“The SABC is the leading broadcaster in the SADC region. It has more reach and impact on the minds and the hearts of SADC citizens than any other broadcaster, hence, SABC’s mandate should go beyond serving just the narrow interests of South Africa, but the interests of the entire region and Africa in line with AfCFTA and AU objectives.”

The SADC bloc declared October 25 Anti-Sanctions Day in solidarity with Zimbabwe in the call for the unconditional lifting of all sanctions imposed on the country.