Home South African SABC ‘sets record straight’ after outcry over bid to vet news head

SABC ‘sets record straight’ after outcry over bid to vet news head

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The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has set the record straight following allegations that its head of news, Moshoeshoe Monare, was subject to vetting by the Presidency.

THE SOUTH African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has set the record straight following allegations that its head of news, Moshoeshoe Monare, was subject to vetting by the Presidency.

The public broadcaster explained that Monare, as stated by the Presidency, did not complete the process of vetting as stipulated in his contract.

“He submitted the Z204 (Security Clearance Form) in October 2022. He has not been asked to go through an unfair second round of vetting and security clearance. It is important to confirm that Mr Monare consented to the vetting by the SSA (Security State Agency) when he signed his contract of employment, which clearly spells out the requirements as a condition of employment,” the SABC said in a statement on Tuesday, adding that it had no evidence to suggest that it was being targeted.

According to reports, Monare and other executives at the SABC were subject to a vetting process ahead of the May 29 elections.

The reports were slammed by media NGOs. The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef), Media Monitoring Africa (MMA), SOS Support Public Broadcasting Coalition (SOS) and the Campaign for Freedom of Expression (CFE) said the move by the SSA undermines the fundamental principles of media and editorial independence and freedom of the press.

“While the SABC may be a deemed a Critical Infrastructure in terms of the Critical Infrastructure Act, the act is focused on the vetting of security personnel and not journalists,” the organisations said in a joint media statement.

However, the SABC said it is a procedural requirement for the public service broadcaster as an accountable institution operating in South Africa to initiate a vetting process on all group executives.

“Consequently, when Monare was appointed in 2022, the SABC would have made the request to the Security State Agency for Monare to be vetted.

“All top-level executives at the SABC are subjected to vetting and obtaining security clearance as part of their conditions of employment. This requirement is standard for all executives, and those who complete the process receive a certificate of clearance. The details of this vetting process are outlined in the SABC HR policy, ensuring no surprises, or misunderstanding for executives who have agreed to these terms upon signing their contracts,” the broadcaster said in a statement.

The public broadcaster confirmed that there was “nothing sinister going on” and that vetting was a normal process for executives at the SABC.

“Newly appointed Group CEO, Nomsa Chabeli is also undergoing this clearance as a requirement of her employment contract. To this end, the SABC is not involved in scheduling such vetting, management of the time-frames nor is the SABC involved in any aspect of this process.

“The SABC Legal Office is available to support any employee should they feel that their rights to free expression have been infringed upon,” the SABC said.

The broadcaster added that its elections broadcasts are regulated by various prescripts of legislation.

“During an election period, the SABC is bound to comply with additional Icasa (Independent Communications Authority of South Africa) guidelines on equitable coverage of political parties that are applicable during an election period. Given the upcoming elections, the SABC’s is guided by the commitment to editorial independence, impartiality, transparency and balance,” the SABC said.

It said editorial staff are required to understand that with the legislated and constitutional protection of the SABC’s independence comes the responsibility to serve the public with the highest standards of excellence and integrity.

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