Jimi Mathews has quit as acting CEO of SABC as a result of the organisation’s “prevailing, corrosive atmosphere” and its impact on his moral judgement.

SABC has faced a barrage of criticism in recent weeks from pro-democracy groups – such as Media Monitoring Africa, SOS Support Public Broadcasting Coalition and the Freedom of Expression Institute –  for its refusal to broadcast visuals from violent protests in Tshwane, with accusations of blatant censorship.

The broadcaster has also been condemned by the South African National Editor’s Forum (SANEF) for its suspension of three journalists who objected to a decision to not cover anti-censorship protests aimed at SABC. SANEF urged SABC to lift the suspension, stating that “Journalists in a constitutional democracy have a right to express themselves freely”.

Despite releasing a statement in support of SABC’s refusal to cover the Tshwane protests last week, Mathews’ writes in his resignation letter that “what is happening at the broadcaster is wrong and I can no longer be part of it”.

It reads:

“For many months I have compromised the values that I hold dear under the mistaken belief that I could be more effective inside the SABC than outside, passing comment from the sidelines.”

“In the process the prevailing‚ corrosive atmosphere has impacted negatively on my moral judgment and has made me complicit in many decisions which I am not proud of.”

Mathews ends with an apology to the many people he has “let down by remaining silent when my voice needed to be heard”.

Last week SABC argued that the lack of footage from the Tshwane protests would not impact its ability to report factually, and that the outcome of the protests would be aired.

Mathew’s resignation also follows another “denial of service” attack against SABC websites by hacktivist group Anonymous Africa this weekend. The group claims to have targeted the broadcaster in protest against censorship and have called for the resignation of COO Hlaudi Motsoaneng.



By Kristian Porter