MultiChoice is strongly condemning and distancing itself from the homophobic reality TV star and dancer Zodwa Wabantu, amidst growing calls for Zodwa Wabantu to be cancelled and an escalating controversy about her shocking comments that made it to air after it supposedly passed several levels of vetting at the Moja Love (DStv 157) channel.
More and more DStv subscribers and organisations have been calling for MultiChoice to cancel Zodwa Wabantu Uncensored following the entertainer's homophobic remarks in Saturday's pre-recorded episode.
Calls to can the Moja Love show comes alongside a growing online petition with thousands of signatures at Change.org and complaints that have been laid with the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA).
MultiChoice on Thursday strongly condemned Zodwa Wabantu's comments as well.
In response to a media enquiry, MultiChoice tells TVwithThinus that "The MultiChoice Group strongly condemns any acts of discrimination".
"The MultiChoice Group distances itself from the commentary made by Zodwa Wabantu on independent channel Moja Love. It is important to note that, as Moja Love is an independent third-party channel, MultiChoice Group does not exercise editorial control over their broadcast."
"MultiChoice strongly condemns any acts of discrimination. As such we distance ourselves from the comments made by Zodwa Wabantu. We welcome a society where freedom of speech and diversity is celebrated, and we take a stand against discrimination in all instances."
On Wednesday the LGBTQ advocacy group, Johannesburg Pride, in a statement demanded that MultiChoice suspend the Zodwa Wabantu Uncensored series on Moja Love "with immediate effect" after her homophobic and transphobic comments.
The group said it sees Zodwa Wabantu's comments allowed to air on Moja Love on DStv as "disrespectful and offensive, promoting discrimination and encouraging of hate crimes particularly towards the trans community. In our tireless efforts to deconstruct stereotypes, we view these statements as degenerative and damaging to the continuous struggle for equality".
"DStv needs to be mindful of the hate it is promoting. This must be a lesson to all media personalities and influencers to be mindful of how they conduct themselves and what they say," Johannesburg Pride said.
By Thursday morning Musa Kawula's online petition has amassed over 7 800 signatures supporting the cancellation of the show, passing the goal of 7 500.
Musa Kawula said that "These comments are homophobic and transphobic therefore something has to be done. Zodwa Wabantu's show is on a broadcast show which means these comments went through several producers or stages before it was decided that it will be broadcast without any person picking up that these comments were homophobic and therefore pose a threat to the members of the LGBT community at large."
In Saturday's episode of Zodwa Wabantu: Uncensored, producers decided to include the star filmed making sweeping negative and false generalisations and Moja Love channel execs seeing nothing wrong with Zodwa saying "Gay people are naughty. Name a gay person who has never fought with a girl."
"They're convinced that they have a vagina, they have a penis. We have vaginas. We accommodate you guys because you get to wear make-up and when we, as women, talk about men you get a chance too."
Iranti, an LGBTIQ+ rights organisation, called for a meeting with Zodwa Wabantu and the show's producers to "discuss the harmful impacts the episode may have on LGBTIQ+ people".
Nokuthula Mavuso said "Before a show goes on-air, the tape goes through so many people for approval. Nobody, absolutely nobody, thought 'this is not it'? Moja Love and Zodwa Wabantu Uncensored should also be called out".
Another viewer said "The producers need to be slapped. Why did they allow her to go and attack LGBT+? I think they thrive on her being controversial so much that they missed the facts that her views were discriminatory and bigoted."