Friday, April 25, 2014


Freedom of speech in South Africa is under threat whether citizens of the Republic of South Africa realise it or not: the South African broadcasting regulator in a late announced meeting on Friday of its Complaints and Compliance committee, banned a political party's TV commercial which the public broadcaster banned, was then forced to show, and is now banned again.

In a shocking about turn, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) on Friday evening - shortly after announcing at 15:04 that a "public hearing" would take place at 17:00 on the Friday preceding a long weekend - banned the political TV advert of the Democratic Alliance (DA).

Nothing of the so-called "public hearing" was public where Icasa suddenly  bulldozed through a ban of the TV commercial as it is in its current form, reversing its decision of a week ago to unban the commercial after Icasa was threatened with legal action.

The shocking about turn from South Africa's broadcasting regulator a week later, now publicly shows that the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has become as politically infected and its independence as severely politically compromised as the South African Broadcasting Corporation.

Icasa has now become complicit in silently, dutifully, kowtowing to the ruling political party.

The "Ayisafani" TV commercial was banned by the SABC which also banned a political TV advert of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) political party, although other broadcasters had no problem playing and showing it.

Last week the South African broadcasting regulator ordered the SABC to start broadcasting the banned DA commercial immediately. While the SABC then banned the EFF commercial, Icasa dragged its feet this entire week in holding a Complaints and Compliance hearing.

On Friday evening Icasa quietly suddenly did an about turn and banned the DA election advert at the public hearing which had no closing arguments - meaning that the EFF advert will also be - and effectively remain - banned.

By Friday night Icasa has not issued any public statement about the broadcasting regulator banning the TV commercial, explaining why.

The DA now plans to take the matter to court for a high court ruling.

The shocking about turn of Icasa comes after the South African Police - which today abused a South African TV reporter, physically grabbed his cellphone and deleted photos off of it at an ANC election rally - told Icasa that the DA and EFF adverts "incites violence" and makes the police look bad.

"The police should not be seen as a threat to the community," Wandile Tutani, chairperson of Icasa's Complaints and Compliance committee said.