NUMSA condemns Multichoice for attacking media diversity

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa condemns Multichoice for refusing to renew ANN7’s contract when it ends in August. Multichoice announced in a statement yesterday that it would not renew the contract for the television network. This announcement followed allegations of a corrupt relationship between the pay-tv provider and ANN7. Multichoice has confirmed that it found “procedural short comings, but it found no evidence of corruption or other illegal activity.”  And yet strangely it has decided not to renew their contract.

ANN7 has been under a lot of scrutiny because it was previously owned by the Gupta family, which has close ties to President Jacob Zuma. Furthermore it has been severely criticized for being a propaganda tool for the Guptas‚ who have been accused of using their relationship with President Jacob Zuma to win government advertising for the news channel. The station was sold to Mzwanele Manyi last year who also has close ties to the ANC and President Zuma.

ANN7 workers are being punished for the sins of their bosses

It is our view that the employees of ANN7 are being unfairly condemned for their association to the Gupta family and President Zuma. NUMSA has consistently said that the Gupta’s must be investigated and criminally charged so that the full extent of the corruption allegations can be ventilated in court and the wrong doers must be punished. The failure to do this has led to a situation where they are being tried through the court of public opinion. The decision by Multichoice reflects this reality. The management couldn’t find any proof of corruption. The ‘procedural shortcomings’ were of their own making, but because of the intense negative publicity associated with the news network they made the decision to punish the station and its workers anyway.

NUMSA will always defend the rights of journalists and the principle of free speech

Our position must not be misconstrued as expressing support for Zuma or the ANC. We were expelled by COSATU for rejecting President Zuma and the ANC because we realized that the ANC does not have solutions for the working class and the poor. However it is our duty as a Marxist-Leninist trade union to defend the rights of journalists and the principle of free speech. And that is why we view the decision by Multichoice not to renew the ANN7’s contract as an attack on media freedom and diversity.

Multichoice has no tolerance for dissenting views

Multichoice says that the station tasked with replacing ANN7 should be able to provide ‘independent, non-partisan and critical news coverage of current affairs’. If ANN7’s crime is that it is partisan, then Multichoice should also not renew the contracts of the SABC, eNCA, RT, CNN and all the other news networks which are represented on the platform. It is naïve to believe that media houses are unbiased. Like all corporate entities they serve the interests of the dominant class and this is reflected in their reportage. If Multichoice really cared about giving viewer’s choice they should be opening up the space and allowing more players in, instead of shutting down dissenting views.  It is obvious that this decision has nothing to do with creating a space for balanced journalism. Like all monopolies Multichoice is acting to protect its own narrow interests. This decision clearly demonstrates that it has no tolerance for dissenting views in the media space and wants to ensure that only one narrative is dominant.  

NUMSA repeats the call for all Gupta owned businesses to be nationalized

NUMSA condemns this decision as it is likely to lead to job cuts and retrenchments for thousands of media workers and their families. We are grappling with sky rocketing levels of unemployment in South Africa. The monopolistic nature of the local media industry where only a handful of broadcasting media houses operate, means that the majority of these workers will not be absorbed by other companies. We repeat our call for law enforcement authorities to speed up their criminal investigations into the Guptas. And in the meantime all Gupta owned businesses must be nationalized in order to protect workers from losing their jobs. They should not be punished because of the actions of the bosses.


Aluta continua!

The struggle continues!

Issued by Phakamile Hlubi-Majola

NUMSA National Spokesperson (Acting)