SABC hits back at media union

2013-06-27 14:39

Johannesburg - The national public service broadcaster on Wednesday dismissed as "not true" a statement by the Media Workers' Association of SA (Mwasa) that the SABC was placing structure before strategy in its recent announcement of six executive management appointments.

In a statement sent to Sapa, SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago noted his concern that the news agency's report on the matter six days ago had included comment from Mwasa when it was not a recognised union at the SABC, and clearly had little or no knowledge of what was happening at the broadcaster.

"Mwasa alleges that the SABC has placed a structure before strategy; and this is not true. Mwasa further alleges that appointments are made with little or no clarity on the strategic functions the appointees have to drive. Clearly this statement is made with little or no knowledge of what is currently happening within the organisation, as Mwasa has not been engaging with the SABC [because] they are not recognised," Kganyago said.

Criticising male-female ratio

He emphasised that the broadcaster was not denying the union the right to make any comment or have a say in the SABC's operations, as it was an institution accountable to the public.

"However, Mwasa must not give an impression that it has been engaging with the SABC or has the privilege to discuss the daily operations and strategies of the SABC."

In criticising the five male-one female gender balance of the appointees, the union had ignored the fact that the broadcaster's group CEO, head of legal, chief audit officer, company secretary and two deputy secretaries, were all women.

Kganyago said the SABC wanted to register its misgivings on the comments Mwasa made.

The SABC also wanted Sapa to "clarify" why Mwasa, which was not recognised by the broadcaster, was "interviewed" by the news agency while the corporation had unions such as the Broadcasting, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers' Union and the Communications Workers' Union, which were recognised.

Sapa reacts

The SABC had issued a statement last year on the status of the relationship between it and Mwasa and also commented in several publications on this matter.

"Therefore there is no excuse on the part of Sapa to ignore this very important fact," Kganyago concluded.

Sapa editor Mark van der Velden pointed out that the agency had not in fact interviewed Mwasa on the matter. Mwasa was the only union, of all those mentioned, which spontaneously and proactively sent in a press statement commenting on the SABC's announcement of its appointments.

Sapa regarded this as newsworthy on a public interest issue, and added two paragraphs of Mwasa's views to the end of a detailed news story on the SABC appointments.