“The reinstatement of seven SABC journalists is a victory for all South Africans in many ways,” says Wayne Duvenage, chairman of OUTA. “Not only is it an important victory for press freedom, but proof that our constitution and human rights are respected by an independent judiciary. This is the cornerstone of a true democracy”.
The entire campaign to have the SABC journalists reinstated has proved that ordinary South Africans can mobilise against the abuse of power and corruption. That civil society organisations can work together and halt the abuse of power by SABC’s leadership, ultimately ensures that justice will prevail.
OUTA is pleased to witness the uniting of society around an issue which, if left unchallenged, could have had serious consequences for our democracy and more so on the eve of an important election period. “Active citizenry has never been as united and mobilised since the birth of our new democracy. Instead of complaining and feeling helpless, citizens are now supporting civil action driven initiatives and sending a strong message to government that we will not sit back and watch this crass abuse of power, which retards the development of our nation,” says Duvenage.
While the battle to have these courageous journalists reinstated might have been won, the war to ensure the independence of the public broadcaster is far from over. It worries us that this situation has been allowed to develop to the point where the SABC, like many other state owned entities in South Africa, has come to symbolise an overt abuse of authority and ignorance of the people they serve. The incessant waste taxpayers’ money while blatantly ignoring the institutions that govern our country has gone on for too long and is being met with a backlash from the people.
The absence of bold and decisive action from the Minister of Communication, Faith Muthambi, says a lot and is testament to governments weakness or reluctance to halt the abuse. Her silence emulates lack of political will to intervene and hold to account the abuse of authority at the many failing state owned institutions – such as the SABC, SAA, Eskom, SANRAL and others – and is a situation which has become unacceptable and intolerable.