Home PodcastInayet Wadee Media Monitoring Africa Head Questions Al-Jama’ah’s Allegations Against SABC Journalists of Political Bias

Media Monitoring Africa Head Questions Al-Jama’ah’s Allegations Against SABC Journalists of Political Bias

by Thaabit Kamaar

The Head of Programmed at Media Monitoring Africa, Thandi Smith, has claimed -in an article- that Al-Jama’ah has been unfairly attacking and accusing the media and SABC journalists of “pursuing a political agenda”.

In the article, Smith questions the “baseless” allegations made against journalist Sakina Kamwendo. Al-Jama’ah alleged SABC journalists are carrying out political agendas when conducting interviews with the Mayor of Johannesburg, Thapelo Amad.

Furthermore, Al-Jama’ah leader Ganief Hendricks stated the party would approach the SABC board on how its journalists push certain political narratives.

However, Smith added one of the main issues was the party leaders’ intent not to follow the correct channels when complaining. Suppose anyone has issues with the media or journalists and has breached codes of conduct. In that case, there are mediums to lay complaints, such as with SABC and the Broadcasting Complaints Commission rather than with the SABC Board directly.

“It’s not okay to simply say, I’m going to approach the board of the SABC. To take us to tasks and to complain about a whole variety or a whole number of journalists.”

The Role of The Media

A fundamental role of the media is to hold those in power accountable. This accountability extends to the national government, local government, political parties and politicians. Because of this reason, politicians are often frustrated with the media and journalists when they are backed into a corner.

In the article, Smith wrote, “Given the status of the person being interviewed and the parlous state of Johannesburg, the questions seem entirely appropriate and expected from an experienced news journalist holding a politician accountable”.

As ordinary citizens who live and work in a city with decaying infrastructure, poor service delivery and regular electricity and water outages, we deserve to know what is being done to address these issues. Given the accessibility the media has to politicians, such as the Mayor, the general public expects journalists to be their mouthpiece.

“We’re dealing with a number of different and seriously big challenges, and when we have a new mayor come in, we sort of deserve to know what is being done about some of these issues. So that is the role of journalists. The media should be asking those questions, and our politicians should know the answers … Citizens don’t have the same kind of access to politicians that the media and their journalists have. They do sort of form the messenger. They play that role of engaging with politicians and asking the hard questions that we all need the answers to.”

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Why Are Politicians Suspicious of the Media?

Smith said the relationship between politics and the media has always been interesting. Politicians have always used the media to their advantage. Still, when the media presses and holds them accountable, they get defensive and begin accusing them of biases.

Furthermore, she added that there were instances of political interference with media institutions in the past, which is the party’s position regarding this matter.

However, from what the MMA have gathered, there was no evidence of a political agenda being pushed by the journalist. The interview was intense, and the questions were uncomfortable but fair.

“There is a history of politicians using the media to push particular agendas. If there are political parties at loggerheads or campaigning against each other, you could see instances of political interference … But from what we take from the interview in question is that there isn’t a political narrative being pushed. It was a very tense interview with very harsh questions which the Mayor couldn’t answer or give a clear answer to.”


Watch the full discussion here.

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