SABC must be ‘more active’ during Covid-19 lockdown – ANC-led alliance

In a letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa, the ANC-led alliance secretariat has criticised the SABC, saying it is not fulfilling its mandate during the national lockdown to combat the scourge of the novel coronavirus.

The secretariat said while it appreciated the work by SABC radio for their wide reach in all 11 languages, the SABC must use all in its disposal in its role to fight against the pandemic.

It was signed by ANC secretary general Ace Magashule, SACP first deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila and Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali.

“It [SABC] must marshal all its resources at its disposal and play a more active and leading role in the fight against the pandemic. In particular, the people need more educational, informative and consistent broadcasting on Covid-19 including live coverage of key events on SABC free-to-air television stations,” the secretariat reasoned.

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Efforts to obtain comment from the SABC were unsuccessful. The public broadcaster’s comment will be added once received.

The alliance met on Thursday to discuss the pandemic.

The parties together with the trade union federation have formed a task team to respond to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The task team will introduce proposals to mitigate the effects of the virus and prepare the ground for recovery, the letter read.

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The task team will include senior ANC leaders Jesse Duarte and Enoch Godongwana, as well as SACP second deputy general secretary Chris Matlhako.

Ministerial briefings must be tightly controlled

The tripartite alliance also called for government to lead a coherent, coordinated and focused communication campaign which involved all social partners to emphasise the need for unity.

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“Communication, especially messaging, should be centralised, and contradictory and confusing messaging should be avoided all together.

“Regular briefings by government ministers are welcomed, however, these briefings must be tightly managed to avoid contradictory or ambiguous messaging.”

The secretariat also called for the briefings to be complemented by what it termed more accessible means of communication, such as loud hailing in communities.

Private healthcare facilitiesmust be made available to citizens

The ANC-led alliance also took aim at private healthcare facilities, saying that Ramaphosa, if needs be, must enforce the national state of disaster to ensure private facilities are made available to all people.

“The private healthcare sector is called upon to reinforce the public health care system in tracking, testing and treating those infected with the virus.

“Whilst the participation of the private healthcare sector, like that of all others, should be sustainable, it must ultimately and fundamentally be based on national interest and informed by humanitarian principles, rather than driven by profit. Human life and the well-being of the nation must be placed before profit.”

The secretariat also sees the manufacturing of local ventilators as crucial. It added that manufacturing should be used as a platform for the development of domestic productive capacity and to support the continent and other parts of the world.

SABC must be 'more active' during Covid-19 lockdown - ANC-led alliance