In a swift reaction, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has confirmed that the flighting of the wrong clip of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s speech to the nation on Thursday last week was an act of sabotage.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the public broadcaster said those involved in the production activities were all warned in advance that they should disregard the rehearsal clip.
The SABC has accused its employees of deliberately sabotaging the broadcaster and President Cyril Ramaphosa in his address to the nation on femicide and the violence in Gauteng last week.
In a statement on Tuesday, the broadcaster said that a preliminary investigation into the incident – in which a clip of Ramaphosa making an error in his pre-recorded address was aired – has revealed a well-considered and co-ordinated act of sabotage to bring the SABC and consequently the president into disrepute.
The SABC referred to the incident as “a serious production and transmission failure”.
“The SABC reveals that material for the broadcast of Ramaphosa’s address was prepared in good time to ensure a clean transmission. However, unauthorised changes were effected without any communication to the desk.
“Consequently, the programme published and played the rehearsal clip from President Ramaphosa’s recorded address to the nation, instead of the final version,” said SABC group CEO Madoda Mxakwe in the statement.
He said that on that day, the SABC news office in parliament sent the feed capturing both Ramaphosa’s rehearsal and final speeches to the Line Records desk, and revealed that those involved in production activities were all warned in advance that they should disregard the rehearsal clip.
“The SABC now has strong prima facieevidence indicating that the broadcast of the incorrect clip was a well-considered and co-ordinated act of sabotage to bring the SABC and consequently the president into disrepute,” said the broadcaster.
It said the employees who were involved in production activities at the time of the incident were given an opportunity to make written representations as to why disciplinary steps should not be instituted against them.
The SABC has received the representations and, after due consideration, the corporation has decided to suspend three permanent employees and unscheduled one freelancer.
A second phase of the investigation into the incident is currently under way.
“The SABC will not tolerate any acts or omissions that bring the public broadcaster into disrepute, and undermine efforts to eradicate systemic problems of malfeasance and maladministration plaguing the institution,” said Mxakwe.
The broadcaster’s news and current affairs boss Phathiswa Magopeni added that “any employee found to be involved in clandestine activities aimed at undoing the ongoing work to restore the credibility of the public news service, would be dealt with accordingly within the confines of the SABC’s human resources and disciplinary policies”.
“We are committed to doing everything possible to improve the quality of our work and elevate the standard of our performance. What happened on Thursday has no place at all in the public news service,” said Magopeni.