The South African broadcaster is still in turmoil, as protests continue and a court bid begins to prevent further censorship measures.

SABC remains in deep waters after its repeated allegations on censorship and the decisions taken not to cover protests over the local elections or negative news about the president, Jacob Zuma. The former CEO has already resigned as a result of the unsettling atmosphere.

On Monday, 4 June, The Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF), which aims to promote liberal constitutional democracy, started a court bid to stop the SABC from fully enforcing its measures.

On 28 June, HSF wrote to the SABC asking them to desist from implementing these policies, warning that they would exercise their rights in law if necessary. This occurred as SABC’s chief operating officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, said he would not withdraw the ban or take any step back.

“The HSF regards the integrity of the SABC as essential at all times,” said the foundation on a press release to explain its decision “and particularly in the lead up to elections.”

The HSF argued that, as a public broadcaster, SABC is obliged to cover all the events of public and national relevance. These include the violent protests or the news that might not be that favourable towards the president or the political party. “It is impermissible for the SABC to distort or refuse to cover important news, as a result of political partisanship or otherwise”, said HSF to News24.
The court bid will be held in the High court in Pretoria, provisionally on 29 July.

The turmoil is set to continue in the upcoming weeks, as civil-society organisations are pressuring the government to take immediate actions. Many coalition groups are set to protest outside the African National Congress (ANC) headquarters in Joburg, on Friday, to encourage their immediate action on the matter.

However, the ANC recently deferred the crisis to the Parliament, which will resume its work on 16 August. Protests are then set to continue, with nongovernmental organisations and civil society groups at the forefront of a push for immediate action. As part of these measures, a petition has now started to ask advertisers to boycott SABC.

“Censorship, by the public broadcaster no less, strikes at the very heart of these rights,” the HSF said “and undermines and erodes our constitutional democracy.” In order to ensure those same rights then, the turmoil seems to continue and more is expected to come in the upcoming weeks.