SUNDAY TIMES - SABC gags callers to stop deluge of anti-ANC criticism
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Sunday Times News By QAANITAH HUNTER, 2016-02-28

SABC gags callers to stop deluge of anti-ANC criticism

SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago.
Image: Gallo Images/Frennie Shivambu

The SABC has canned open lines on all its radio talkshows to block antigovernment callers from expressing their frustrations in the run-up to the local government elections.

The Sunday Times understands the order was issued to talkshow hosts and producers this week by SABC radio general manager Leuba Ramakgolo.

Listeners of MetroFM Talk were shocked this week when host Rams Mabote did not invite them to comment on any issue they deemed important.

Some listeners tweeted Mabote in protest, questioning why the open line was dropped. One Twitter user asked: "You sacrificed our open line for what good reason?"

An SABC employee said management argued that this was to prevent electioneering on the broadcaster's platforms ahead of the local elections.

The source said SABC management said open lines would be dropped until after the elections.

The decision was made in an effort to prevent callers from criticising the ANC and the government.

"Because it is a current affairs show, most of the callers call in to complain about the ANC or government," the source said.

SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago had not responded to questions at the time of going to press.

Another SABC employee said this was not the first time management had tried to censor presenters and callers.

SABC bosses have over the past few months complained about current affairs shows and warned about "balance" when discussing politics.

Mabote would not comment on the matter. "Speak to the people upstairs. Speak to the bosses," he said.

Before the ANC's Mangaung conference in 2012, a MetroFM panel discussion hosted by Sakina Kamwendo was cancelled at the eleventh hour because the ANC was not invited to send a representative to the show during which journalists were the guests.