SABC lock on Nkandlagate
SABC acting head of news Jimi Matthews has ordered his newsroom to stop referring to President Jacob Zuma's rural retreat at Nkandla as a "compound" or a "homestead".
Matthews also told his reporters to refrain from using the term "Nkandlagate" to refer to the controversy about the renovations to Zuma's home, which will reportedly cost R238-million.
He barred the use of the term "Zumaville" when reporting on the development of the Nkandla area.
The development, which includes the building of clinics and other facilities, will reportedly cost around R2-billion.
COPE's acting chief whip, Juli Kilian, revealed Matthews' strictures in parliament yesterday when she read an e-mail from him during a sitting of the National Assembly.
In the e-mail, which The Times has obtained, Matthews writes: "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 infrastructure developments around the residence, such as "Nkandlagate", "Zumaville" and such like ."
Kilian said the e-mail was indicative of "deplorable political censorship" and a "direct attack on freedom of expression and the editorial independence of the SABC".
She threatened to report Matthews to the Independent Communications Authority because she believed that the orders he gave contravened the Broadcasting Act and the SABC's licence agreement with the communications authority.
"This does not only destroy the credibility of SABC news but the very integrity of the SABC as an independent public broadcaster."
SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago refused to comment, saying the e-mail was an internal communication.
In September it was reported that SABC political reporters had confronted Matthews about his decision to ban news broadcasts of Julius Malema's visits to Marikana.
The corporation has reportedly forbidden referring to the Marikana shootings as a "massacre".