Mr Norman Ndivhuho Munzhelele
Managing Director: eNews Channel Africa
Private Bag X9944

Dear Mr Munzhelele

Missed opportunities: “South Africa’s most watched TV news channel” has tripped over its ego (yet again)

1. We have taken the time to consider your letter and let me state categorically, from the outset, that the United Democratic Movement (UDM) is extremely dissatisfied with the outcome of our meeting of 2 March 2021 if your letter of 15 March 2021 constitutes the product of that meeting. What an utter waste of time.

2. Despite our attempts to meet eNCA halfway and to make the best of a bad situation. It is clear that the UDM and eNCA had been at two different meetings, and that the two groups had walked away with divergent understandings of what that meeting had meant and what the intended outcomes had been.

3. We gave eNCA every opportunity to do the right thing, and you have failed to step up to the plate at every step of the way. Initially it took eNCA days to honour its original undertaking that it would like to meet with the UDM. Then it further added insult to injury when it took eNCA a week to respond to our 8 March 2021 reminder, even as we acknowledged your difficult circumstances with the passing away of Ms Karima Brown.

4. It is as if we are trudging through this mud alone and instead of seeing this as an opportunity to mend bridges and bring South Africans closer together, eNCA has taken a patronising, denialist stance.

5. You argue that eNCA plays a critical role in nation building and social cohesion, yet eNCA still refuses to acknowledge that what happened on 24 February 2021 to UDM Deputy President Nqabayomzi Kwankwa, and on other occasions to other black interviewees, are perceived by millions of sober South Africans as blatant racism.

6. Why does eNCA refuse to understand that Mr Kwankwa feels demeaned as a black South African by the treatment he received initially at Ms Dentlinger’s hands, and now at the hands of the entire company?

7. Why does eNCA insist on being so stubbornly tone-deaf to the implications of this incident, and even now by the denialist content of your letter?

8. Ms Dentlinger might have made what you claim to be a public apology, but that simply is not equal to the kind of atonement which we had agreed upon at the meeting. I wish to remind you that eNCA wrote a public statement defending itself, Ms Dentlinger and the production team, which it circulated to the entire South African press corps. The story was covered far and wide by your colleagues in the media. Now eNCA does not deem it necessary to retract that statement and apologise in the same fashion. It is simply shameful.

9. You deign to “appreciate” our suggestion regarding diversity management and anti-racism training and contend that “continuous training initiatives are an integral part of the eNCA newsroom”. If that really is the case, I have bad news for you, because your current training programmes are clearly producing hot air. You shot yourself in the foot with your own logic with the very next “justification”, because keeping “…abreast of developments at a local and international level” has nothing to do with teaching people skills to your news corps, as the incident on the steps of Parliament on 24 February proves!

10. So much for eNCA’s editorial policy and its “handling of race related issues”, maybe you should have attached a copy so that we could have a clear understanding of how eNCA “handles” race related issues. To us it sounds like a bunch of hot air.

11. Your words: “eNCA has never tolerated racism” rings hollow. With your letter, you have just enforced the perception that thousands of South Africans have held about eNCA over the years and have proven that our trust in this process was misplaced.

12. I wonder if your letter is the sole opinion of eNCA’s management and whether it includes that of its board? Either way, this is a sad day for broadcasting journalism in South Africa.

Yours sincerely
Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP
President of the United Democratic Movement