The opposition Democratic Alliance, on Friday filed papers at the South Gauteng High Court against the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation for its refusal to cover the party’s federal congress that will be held in the seaside town of Port Elizabeth. The party will, this weekend, hold a federal congress in Port Elizabeth where they will elect the party’s leader who will take over from the long standing Hellen Zille, who announced last month that she will not be standing for re-election. This has led to a race for the top job between the party’s parliamentary leader, Mmusi Maimane and Dr Wilmot James, who is the federal chairperson of the party.
Speaking to the media, party spokesman, Phumuzile van Damme, said that the DA and the SABC had agreed that the congress would be shown on the free-to-air channel two of the corporation. The party’s statement also added that the refusal to air the congress on the free-to-air channel was against the national broadcaster’s editorial policy and also went against public interest. “It is manifestly in the public interest that a national elective congress of the official opposition in South Africa, representing over 4 million voters, receives coverage by the national public broadcaster,” the statement said. The DA went on to argue that the SABC had covered the different events for the ruling ANC and that the decision not to cover the party’s federal congress was both irrational and unreasonable.
Responding to the allegations by the DA, the SABC said that they were going to cover the congress on its 24-hour DStv news channel. The Public Broadcaster’s spokesman, Kaizer Kganyago said that there was never an agreement in which they had promised the opposition party that they would cover the congress on SABC 2. “We never promised to show [the congress] on SABC 2.They must show us where we promised that,” said Kganyago, adding that what the Democratic Alliance was trying to do was to dictate to the media giant what to broadcast and where it should be broadcasted.