Jimi Matthews, acting head of the SABC’s news division, has told his staff that they may not use phrases like “Nkandlagate”, “compound”, and “Homestead” when referring to President Jacob Zuma’s lavish thatch palace.
He also banned them from using the term “Zumaville”, and called for an end to all “imported terminology” like it.
It would be hard to think of the self-censorship as anything other than political pressure.
The revelations came to light in parliament yesterday when Cope MP, Juli Killian read an email Matthews had sent to his staff.
Killian immediately slammed the move, and threatened to report Matthews to the communications regulator, Icasa, because this kind of self-censorship was not in line with the Broadcasting Act and SABC’s licence agreement with Icasa:
[It’s] deplorable political censorship [representing a] direct attack on freedom of expression and the editorial independence of the SABC.
Here is that email:
Your [sic] are hereby notified that, with immediate effect, President Zuma’s Nkandla home should be referred to as the President’s, or Mr Zuma’s “Nkandla residence”, and not a “compound” or “Homestead” or any other such term. Please also refrain from using imported terminology in reporting on the controversy surrounding the infrastructural developments around the residence, such as “Nkandlagate”, “Zumaville” and such like..
Good one, Jimi.
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