Amend flag advert or we won’t broadcast it — SABC tells DA

South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), has taken a decision that it will not broadcast the DA’s national elections advertisement because it depicts the burning of the South African flag.

In a letter dated May 9 and written by SABC’s complaints specialist Nyiko Shibambo to Busisiwe Mashigo of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa), the SABC said the DA’s election advertisement for the May 29 polls encourages damage to a national symbol like the national flag.

Shibambo’s said the DA’s degradation of the country’s national flag should be condemned.

Advert is contrary to SABC mandate

He said the SABC, as a public broadcaster, is mandated to promote nation-building through its services and the DA’s election advertisement goes against the spirit of nation-building.

Shibambo added that it has informed the DA to amend its advertisement and resubmit it for broadcasting.

“The SABC informs the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) of its decision to reject the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) political advertisement in which amongst other things [it] depicts the burning of the national flag. The SABC has been monitoring the outcry from South Africans of all races condemning the advertisement which is currently in circulation on various media platforms.

“Likewise, the SABC believes that the advertisement encourages damage of treasured national symbols. The national flag is a national symbol which represents diverse elements of the country and national unity. Additionally, it is expected that the national flag should be accorded with dignity and respect. Thus, the flag is not a representation of a political party but the nation at large,” said Shibambo.

Noted condemnation from president, state departments

Shibambo said the SABC has noted the condemnation of the DA’s advert by President Cyril Ramaphosa and other government departments.

“As a responsible public broadcaster, the SABC will not want to be part [of those] fueling the outrage that is evidenced on divergent media platforms. The SABC persuades the Democratic Alliance to amend the advertisement. In the spirit of the South African constitutional values and principles of national unity and nation building, the desecration of the national flag should be condemned.

“The SABC… is mandated to promote nation building through its services. And the said political advertisement goes against the spirit of nation building. The SABC has also noted that some of the words used in the advert are subject to a formal complaint. [The complaint was] lodged with Icasa against the SABC. Therefore, allowing this advert to be broadcast will be prejudicial to the SABC. We encourage the DA to amend the advert and resubmit it for broadcast,” said Shimbambo.

In response to the SABC’s decision, DA leader John Steenhuisen took to the X platform and lambasted the SABC’s decision.

DA leader sticks to his guns

“In an unprecedented attack on our democracy, deployed ANC cadres at the SABC have banned the DA’s latest advertisement … to hide the truth of how the ANC has burnt our country to the ground. The DA will fight to the highest court in the land to defend our constitution.

“This censorship is not only a clampdown on dissent. It also provides a foretaste of the assault on our flag that will come under an ANC/EFF Doomsday Coalition. The banning of our ad only reinforces its message. That our constitutional democracy will burn unless millions vote DA,” said Steenhuisen.

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