On 27 June 2016, Lukhanyo Calata issued a public statement about corruption at the South African Broadcasting Corporation, where he had worked as a journalist for several years. He knew that it would probably result in his dismissal. The corporation had succumbed to what has come to be known in South Africa as ‘state capture’: working in the interests of Zuma’s government, which had itself been captured by big business. Zuma had especially close ties to the notorious Gupta brothers, who now face possible extradition from the UAE to answer criminal charges in South Africa. Calata spoke out against the ‘despotic rule’ of the SABC’s chief operating officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng. On the day of his disciplinary hearing, Calata joined a picket outside SABC opposing the corporation’s decision not to report on a rising wave of violent protests across the country. The aim of the protests was to secure better housing, job opportunities, municipal governance and social services, and to force the ANC government to reverse policies – so remote from the vision it had when it came to power – that were manifestly failing those citizens, mainly black, who were most socially vulnerable. In fact, the writing had been on the wall for Calata since February 2014, when, following Zuma’s annual state of the nation address, he was grabbed by the scruff of his jacket by SABC’s head of news, Jimi Matthews, told not to get Matthews ‘into shit’ and ordered to put together soundbites of opposition politicians’ positive reactions to Zuma’s speech. He refused (even had he wished to, he could hardly have complied as no such soundbites existed). The resonances with the apartheid era were chilling. Under the regime of P.W. Botha, the SABC had been known as ‘his master’s voice’.
Source: London Review of Books –