Category Archives: Media

South Africa – SABC told by regulator to end “censorship”

City Press

SABC ‘censorship’ policy officially outlawed

2017-03-10 12:32

The SABC must revert to its 2004 editorial policy, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa has ruled.

Icasa’s council has officially ratified a recommendation made by its complaints and compliance committee after a hearing in December last year.

The SOS Coalition and Media Monitoring Africa had brought the complaint against the SABC’s revised editorial policy of 2015, adopted in January 2016, because of the broadcaster’s decision that it would no longer show footage of the violent protests sweeping the country.

The SABC is obliged to review its editorial policy every five years. The 2016 revision effectively, says SOS, allowed former SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng to make editorial decisions in newsrooms.

The revisions led to the new editorial guidelines being referred to as a “censorship policy”.

Icasa’s ruling states that the SABC’s policy falls foul of section 6 (6) of the Broadcasting Act No 4 of 1999 which compels the broadcaster to engage with the public about editorial changes and then publish the proposed revisions for public comment.

“We did engage with the public. In 2014, 2015 we did a roadshow across the country,” said SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago.

At the time, the SABC said they met with 30 organisations and held 17 public hearings.

“The only thing we didn’t do is publish the proposed changes. This will be a matter that the interim board will have to deal with when their term starts. Perhaps all they will want to do is publish the changes, we will see.”

The SOS Coalition released a statement today welcoming the ruling.

“When the SABC last reviewed its editorial policy in 2004, a draft editorial policy was released for public consultation.

“The comments provided in those intensive engagements and submissions were then incorporated into the new revisions of the policy,” said SOS coordinator Duduetsang Makuse.

“The intentional exclusion of public comment [in 2016] allowed the sanctioning of certain amendments, which have had grave implications for the quality of journalism and news coverage at the public broadcaster.”

South Africa – National assembly adopts report on SABC governance crisis

BD Live

07 March 2017 – 16:51 PM Bekezela Phakathi
Picture: TIMESLIVE
Picture: TIMESLIVE

The National Assembly has formally adopted the report by Parliament’s ad hoc committee that probed governance failings at the SABC.

While all nonexecutive SABC board members resigned in 2016, the ad hoc committee report, which was finalised in February, formally recommends the dissolution of the board, including executive directors.

Communications Minister Faith Muthambi, who has been blamed for the crisis at the public broadcaster, was not in Parliament on Tuesday as MPs debated the report.

Opening the debate in the National Assembly, Vincent Smith, who chaired the ad hoc committee, said the board and the executive directors had failed to execute their fiduciary responsibilities.

 

The executive directors are acting CEO James Aguma, acting chief financial officer Audrey Raphela, and Bessie Tugwana, previously head of corporate affairs and now acting chief operating officer.

Significantly, the report suggests that President Jacob Zuma “reconsider” Muthambi’s “desirability” in the Cabinet.

Members of the ad hoc committee have suggested that Muthambi may have violated the Constitution by, among other things, acting in a way that “improperly” benefited Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the public broadcaster’s former chief operating officer.

Motsoeneng, who featured prominently during various witnesses’ testimony, had also been blamed for the mess at the public broadcaster.

The ad hoc committee points out in its report that Muthambi interfered in SABC board matters and undermined the Broadcasting Act. She has also been criticised for the illegal amendments she made to the SABC’s memorandum of incorporation (MOI), which gave her and Motsoeneng total control of the public broadcaster.

The amendment of the MOI has been seen as one of the catalysts in the demise of the SABC board and the complete collapse of good governance.

The SABC submitted a response to the report in February questioning the manner in which the inquiry had been conducted. It claimed that the committee had “displayed specific bias” and that this had led to a predetermined outcome. The public broadcaster also said the inquiry had been accusatorial rather than inquisitorial.

In a written submission to the ad hoc committee in February, Motsoeneng’s lawyer said his client felt “prejudiced” because he had not been invited to take the witness stand.

Last week, Motsoeneng said it was unfair that the committee had chosen not to hear directly from him.

The UDM, the only party to object to the adoption of the report, said it did not support its adoption mainly because the ad hoc committee had denied Motsoeneng the opportunity to state his side of the story.

Some of the recommendations contained in the final report include that:

• A forensic investigation into suspect deals at the SABC, along with contracts, salary increases and bonus payments, be undertaken.

• The validity of the board’s MOI be investigated by the interim board in concert with the portfolio committee on communications.

• The interim board ensure that the top three senior executive management positions (CEO, chief operating officer and chief financial officer) are filled by suitably qualified and experienced individuals.

• The current editorial policy is scrapped and new editorial guidelines with public participation are created.

The SABC interim board, which is due to be appointed in the coming weeks, will be tasked with implementing some of the recommendations.

Kenya and other African governments struggle with role of social media

The Conversation

African governments versus social media: Why the uneasy relationship?

The list of African countries blocking access to social media during elections is growing. Shutterstock

Many Kenyan social media users are worried that the government will shut down the internet during August’s general election. Kenya’s Communications Authority has attempted to reassure voters that this is unlikely. However, fears that internet freedoms could be at risk are not unfounded.

The list of African countries that have blocked access to social media during elections and other politically sensitive periods is growing.

Over the past year this included; Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Gambia, the Republic of Congo and Uganda.

Countries like Ethiopia, Madagascar and Tanzania, have introduced cybercrime legislation that threatens freedom of expression.

Elsewhere, social media users, including journalists, have been prosecuted under existing legislation for content they have shared online.

Such actions are often justified in terms of preserving peace and security because social media does offer a potential platform for the dissemination of hate speech and incitement to violence.

This is particularly problematic in contexts where political candidates draw on ethnic or religious differences to mobilise support. The role played by incendiary text messages in the violence around Kenya’s 2007 elections, for example, is often evoked as a reminder of the potential dangers of unregulated mass communication.

In South Sudan, the ongoing conflict has been fuelled by online rumours and hate speech. Some even blamed a ‘false’ Facebook post for causing 150 deaths.

In parts of Africa, social media provides a tool for terrorist groups to recruit and communicate with their followers.

However, government claims that social media is dangerous and shouldn’t always be taken at face value. New forms of communication are shaking up political competition across Africa as elsewhere. This has worrying implications for regimes that hope to cling to power.

Alternative source of news

Social media provides new ways of rapidly sharing information with large numbers of people. In the past a joke poking fun at a political leader might have been shared with a few friends. Today it could reach thousands.

Blogs and platforms, such as WhatsApp, have become major sources of news for many internet users. They sometimes inform what’s reported in the ‘traditional’ media.

Jokes aside, government violations of electoral procedures or other human rights violations can be exposed online.

Social media has played a role in empowering civil society and helps opposition movements to organise in some of Africa’s most authoritarian countries.

The internet also gives localised political issues a global audience. This was the case during recent protests in Ethiopia, when opponents of the regime in the diaspora were able to engage through social media.

However, increased online communication also offers new opportunities for government surveillance and censorship. Internet shutdowns and ‘cybercrime’ prosecutions that target critics of leaders are tools with which to close down political space.

In countries such as Tanzania, restrictions on online debate have been accompanied by complementary offline measures. These include a ban on political rallies and prosecutions of opposition members of parliament for sedition.

Standing up to the state

In the face of government censorship, citizens have attempted to resist restrictions on their internet freedom. For example, in 2016, many Ugandans undermined attempts to block social media by using virtual private networks (VPNs) to connect.

Mobile network operators may face questions about whether they can do more to stand up to governments in future.

Challenging restrictive legislation in court may also prove successful. In Kenya, for example, a legal provision relating to ‘improper’ use of a telecommunications device was declared unconstitutional.

However, in neighbouring Tanzania an attempt to challenge the Cybercrime Act was dismissed.

These are certainly not issues that only affect African countries.

Between June 2015 and July 2016 there were 81 short-term disruptions to internet access in 19 countries. They included India, Turkey and Vietnam.

Globally, the growth of social media has stimulated debate about where to draw the line between protecting freedom of speech and giving a voice to hatred and extremism.

Last year’s presidential campaign in the United States generated concerns about the role of social media in spreading ‘fake news’ with important political consequences.

These debates are urgent in parts of Africa.

In 2017, elections are due in a number of countries that have recent histories of electoral violence. Here, ethnic and regional divisions have in the past been manipulated by political candidates.

There’s therefore a need to consider how to ensure social media isn’t used to incite violence or spread dangerous rumours. The question remains as to how governments can be prevented from seizing the opportunity to restrict citizens’ rights.

Uganda – Museveni calls for “Trump therapy” for western liberals

Daily Nation

Monday February 20 2017
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. He has

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. He has recommended a “Trump therapy” for liberals in the West who he argues are bent on forcing their ideology on other parts of the world. PHOTO | MORGAN MBABAZI 

By AGGREY MUTAMBO

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is recommending a “Trump therapy” for liberals in the West who he argues are bent on forcing their ideology on other parts of the world.

In a long commentary published over the weekend on his website, the Ugandan president chided what he called “liberals” and “leftists” in the West for their lack of “gratitude” and being a “danger” to global peace by forcing their ideologies on (other) people.

In the article, full of historical anecdotes, Mr Museveni says other parts of the world like Africa, China and Russia have made more sacrifices than the West has done to contribute to global development.

“The freedom fighters from Africa, who have been fighting colonialism, neo-colonialism, slave trade and marginalisation for the last 500 years, would have counted the Western liberals and leftists among our automatic allies because these should be people that should be fighting for freedom and justice for all peoples, including the formerly colonised peoples.

“Instead, we notice confusion, ingratitude and, therefore, danger from these liberals and leftists,” he says.

APPEARS TO SUPPORT TRUMP

The Ugandan leader, who has been in power since 1986, appeared to support the ideologies of US President Donald Trump in spite of controversies surrounding his election in 2016.

Trump was accused of groping women, got rejected by many leaders within his own Republican Party and there were allegations that he had links with Russian hackers, which he denies.

But Mr Museveni says the image of Trump portrayed by the so-called liberals who are hardliners on political, economic and social issues is warped, rather than progressive.

Often known for composing long lectures on political ideology, development, and revolutions, President Museveni’s arguments in his blog titled “The confusion, ingratitude as well as the danger of the Western liberals and the Trump therapy”, includes his own experience of working with the West, something he admits was mostly irritating.

NON-CONVERGENCE

“We would spend endless hours arguing with the Western liberals on matters on which we cannot have convergence, bearing in mind that our societies were still pre-capitalist and traditional while theirs have been industrial for centuries now.

“These are issues to do with family, forms of democracy, homosexuals, central planning versus economic liberalisation. One had to control irritation to politely get through these meetings.”

To him, the West had better work with the rest of the world on common issues he called “convergence.”

Citing Trump’s campaign for convergence rather than divergence, he says the West can work together on issues the world agrees on.

“There are so many issues on which all of us (Africa, the West, Russia, China, India, Brazil, etc.) agree: universal education; improved health; industrialisation; freedom of Peoples; the emancipation of women; anti-terrorism; etc.

“Why not take advantage of these convergences? We who were colonised and brutalised by the Western countries forgot and forgave those mistakes.

“Why can’t these countries of the West have a just and balanced attitude to the countries of the East that are growing in capability and getting millions of peoples out of poverty?”

AFRICAN SACRIFICES

Delving into history, President Museveni reminded the world of the African sacrifices for liberation, the communist contribution to world order and how the West’s “greed” put us in a bad situation without them admitting it.

He calls these the “three pillars that have influenced our ability to regain freedom”.

“These groups were against the Soviet Union after the October Revolution in 1917, throughout the inter-war period (1918-1939), during the Cold War and even after the Cold War. It is unfair, it is wrong and it is dangerous for world peace,” he says.

“It is this Soviet Union, that did not only support the freedom of us, the colonised peoples of the world, but saved the whole of humanity by defeating (German dictator Adolf) Hitler, that is ever the target of the ungrateful, confused and, therefore, dangerous groups in the West.

Mr Museveni was referring to the formation of the Soviet state in 1917 when the revolutionary Bolsheviks ousted the Czar to replace the empire with a socialist state.

SOVIET UNION

The Soviet Union would be formed in 1922 under Vladimir Lenin to be a “true democracy.”

However, the Union was under only the Communist Party which demanded loyalty from every citizen.

Mr Museveni says the West should thank the Soviet Union under dictator Josef Stalin for ending Adolf Hitler’s brutality during the World War II, a war in which most of the West had refused to side with the Soviets.

While President Museveni says the Soviets helped Africa’s rise against colonialism by emphasising on freedom, Stalin himself rose to be an expansionist dictator in contrast with the supposed freedoms of the colonised people.

PROTESTS AGAINST SOVIETS

In fact, at some point, there were protests against the Soviets in Africa after they, in 1968, invaded Czechoslovakia (which later dissolved into the Czech Republic (Czechia) and Slovak Republic (Slovakia)).

The Ugandan leader says he took part in those protests in Dar es Salaam (when he was a student there), but he believes the Soviets were the lesser evils.

“True, the Soviets made their own mistakes. Why did they occupy Western Europe after the defeat of Hitler? Would the mighty Red Army not have earned more admiration from the peoples of the world if they had withdrawn from Eastern Europe in 1946 and left those people’s to shape their own destinies?” he asked.

“However, to me, who is not biased, those mistakes neither compare with the mistakes of the West, past and present, nor do they deem the great historic contributions of both the USSR and China to the cause of humanity in general and the African peoples in particular,” Mr Museveni says.

Kenya – Kenyatta performance ratings dropping

Star (Kenya)

Feb. 14, 2017, 2:00 am

President Uhuru Kenyatta. Latest Ipsos polls indicate that his ratings have dropped by sic percent to 57 per cent.
President Uhuru Kenyatta. Latest Ipsos polls indicate that his ratings have dropped by sic percent to 57 per cent.

With only 175 days to Election Day, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s approval ratings have dropped by six per cent, despite his being the “most inspiring” leader, an Ipsos poll indicates.

The poll shows that though 66 per cent say they have confidence in the President, only 57 per cent approve of his performance in the last three months.

According to the poll, Uhuru’s performance approval ratings have dropped from 78 per cent in 2014 to 57 per cent this year.

This is however not the lowest score the President has had, having been given an approval rating of 47 per cent in another Ipsos poll – released in November 2015.

A total of 2,097 respondents were interviewed in this survey. The margin of error was -/+2.16 with a confidence level of 95%.

In terms of confidence levels, 42 per cent of respondents said they have a lot of confidence in Uhuru, this is compared to 28 per cent who say the same for Raila Odinga.

“Even among Opposition supporters, he wins more than twice as much of the highest confidence rating (“a lot of confidence”) than does Deputy President William Ruto,” Ipsos leader researcher Tom Wolf explained.

Confidence levels for all the main Opposition leaders are considerably lower, but Raila has the highest.

This is about twice the level that it is for his nearest NASA colleague, Kalonzo Musyoka.

In the poll, 35 per cent of those sampled were of the opinion that the Head of State performed poorly in the last three months and a paltry 8 per cent had no opinion.

Those who have approved of the President’s performance over the last three months attributed it to infrastructure (41 per cent), improving the education system (14 per cent), the economy (11 per cent) and combating corruption (seven per cent).

Those against Uhuru’s performance cited abetting corruption (46 per cent), the economy (18 per cent), labour relations and strikes (eight per cent) and poor infrastructure (5 per cent).

Interestingly, the President’s performance seemed to be acknowledged even in areas that are believed to belong to the Opposition.

Some 66 per cent of Mombasa residents approved his performance as well as 52 per cent of Western residents.

“So when you see Jubilee leaders go vote hunting in some of these strongholds that supposedly belong to the Opposition, even without our data they may think they have an argument, so we can see that there is some potential,” Wolf said.

Wolf said that almost half of those who approved the President’s performance feel that the country was heading in the right direction.

On the other hand, those who disapproved of the performance, 84 per cent, said that the country was heading in the wrong direction.

The data also show 81 per cent of those interviewed said that Uhuru was responsible for the country heading in the right direction.

However, 59 per cent said that he should be blamed if the country is heading the wrong direction.

“We wanted to know how could people think that the country is heading in the right direction and still approve of the President’s performance?” said Wolf.

The high cost of living (22 per cent); corruption (21 per cent); lack of employment, (17 per cent); and the ongoing drought (14 per cent) were some of the problems that Kenyans said they face.

Among Jubilee supporters, 24 per cent also identified corruption as a major problem in Kenya, compared to Cord’s 20 per cent.

Twenty-one per cent of Jubilee supporters mentioned the high cost of living, 17 per cent said hunger and drought were a problem and only 13 per cent identified unemployment as an issue.

Ivory Coast – journalists in court after reporting army mutiny

BBC

Members of the special forces

Reuters

Members of the special forces are rarely seen in public and considered loyal to the government

Six journalists are expected to appear in court in Ivory Coast, charged with spreading false information following a mutiny last week by more than 2,000 soldiers demanding bonus payments.

The journalists – who work for three opposition newspapers – reported on Saturday that the Ivorian government had agreed to pay the mutineers about $11,000 (£8,800) each to persuade them to go back to work.

This contradicted an official statement that the troops had apologised and no money was involved.

The newspapers said the cash was expected to be handed over on Monday.

During the mutiny, members of an elite unit fired into the air at their base in the south-eastern town Adiake near the border with Ghana.

Residents stayed indoors and shops and schools closed.

The Ivorian special forces, who report directly to the president’s office, accused their commanders of stealing part of their salaries.

It comes a month after regular soldiers staged a mutiny over pay and conditions.

South Africa – W Cape court rejects SABC appeal against Motsoeneng decision

News24

2017-02-07 11:04

Hlaudi Motsoeneng (City Press)

Hlaudi Motsoeneng (City Press)

Cape Town – The Western Cape High Court has dismissed the SABC’s leave to appeal a ruling against Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

The DA applied to have Motsoeneng’s appointment as group executive for corporate affairs set aside and the court ruled in December that he could not go to work in any capacity at the SABC, pending the findings of a new disciplinary inquiry or a court review of parts of former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s report on his conduct, which was released in February 2014.

Her findings included that he lied about his qualifications.

Motsoeneng was removed as chief operating officer (COO) after the Supreme Court of Appeal in September rejected his bid to appeal the Western Cape High Court’s November 2015 ruling declaring his appointment irrational and setting it aside.

The DA has welcomed the judgment.