Honourable Minister F Muthambi

Department of Communication
Room 155
120 Plein Street
Cape Town
8000

The Chairperson
SABC Board

The Provincial Manager
SABC Umhlobo Wenene

Copied to: Secretary
South African Council of Churches

Party Political Leaders

Dear all

ANC HIJACKING OF THE SABC – UMHLOBO WENENE IMVUSELELO PROGRAMME

The above matter has reference.

I am an ardent follower of the Imvuselelo Programme broadcasted by SABC by Umhlobo Wenene Radio Station. Every Sunday evening, I invest time to listen to this spiritually building programme since the time of the late Reverend Lufafa from the then Radio Transkei. When it was integrated into the programmes of Umhlobo Wenene, I continued following it.

In the past the programme was purely religious in every aspect. Today, the African National Congress (ANC) Government has hijacked the programme with Members of the Executive Council and Mayors using public money. It has been captured by an unethical ruling party and turned it to be its campaigning platform.

After the elections of 2014 it raised eyebrows when this programme went to Bisho to wash the premier’s feet, even though it was known that he was under investigation, because an amount of R200 000 from monies earmarked for former President Mandela’s funeral ended up in his personal account.

Every time the programme airs, you find these Executive Members at centre stage of the church and are given a podium to campaign for their political party. I attended one of these services in Mthatha and it was most repulsive to see the ANC Women’s League Members wearing their uniforms.

I was told that when this programme was recently broadcasted from Sterkspruit and Mancam Village in Mqanduli that one would not be amiss to think that it was an ANC gathering. ANC flags and other campaign material were paraded during what is supposed to be a religious gathering for all citizens irrespective of their political affiliation. If you were to listen to the recording of the service in Mancam, the MEC of Social Development made no bones of praising her party and bringing service delivery to the people. She went on praising the role of ANC stalwarts. You tell me if that is not political campaigning.

Writing this letter, I also consulted some party leaders who informed me that the same abuse is true of a religious programme on Radio Lesedi called Mafulong a Matala.

I fail to understand why the SABC, as the public broadcaster, would allow itself to be used for political gain by a ruling party. If public funds are used for the benefit of the public, the SABC should extend participation to all political parties represented in the area where the programme is held to air views on a specific issue affecting all citizens.

It would be important that the SABC goes back to basics and run this programme using its own budget. Programmes like Imvuselelo should not be funded through provincial and/or local fiscus as such will come with conditions that will undermine the independence of the SABC. After all this money they are using is to bring services to the poor, such as roads, water and electricity and not to brainwash them with ANC propaganda.

If the SABC charges the Guptas for the breakfast show on SABC TV2 from monies they receive from SEOs, such as Eskom, Transnet, etc. they certainly could afford this expense.

SABC should refuse to be used as a mobilising vehicle of the ruling party using the platforms created to develop citizens spiritually. It is a public broadcaster and should be above party politics, at best it should create a separate programme for all political parties to use the public space equally.

Should the SABC not stop this blatant bias in Imvuselelo, we shall be forced to instruct our members to attend these services in full party regalia, carrying party material, and insist that they on, the spot, be given a platform – as they do for the ANC – to address any topic they choose. I am sure other political parties would also welcome this opportunity, especially since talk-shows have been suspended by the SABC.

Whilst you are pondering our demands in the meantime, could you please forward the schedule of these programmes so that we can tell our members to attend these services.

I will always support Imvuselelo in the form that it was originally intended. I however outright reject the fact that the ANC has hijacked religious programmes for their own nefarious objectives.

Our message is clear; the ANC must be stopped from hijacking SABC religious programmes.

I hope this will be attended to urgently

Bantu Holomisa
UDM President