Jimi’s resignation is a wake up call

On Monday, the Acting CEO of the SABC, Jimi Matthews, resigned with immediate effect in protest against deteriorating journalistic conditions at the public broadcaster.

His unexpected resignation and his admission that he had incorrectly thought he could make a difference by remaining at the corporation adds many nails into the coffin of the present leadership.

He is one of the country’s most experienced and outstanding broadcast journalists.

Pre-1990, the SABC was an authoritarian top down organisation that was comfortable for those journalists who were prepared to tow the National Party line. I have to ask if it’s on its way to becoming a place where only those towing the line of some within the ruling party will be comfortable.

Several experienced journalists and political activists have worked hard over many years to lobby for change at the SABC under apartheid. Stopping the present rot will waste valuable time of professionals who should rather be helping to improve the skills of younger journalists and further developing a credible broadcasting institution for South Africa.

The handful of politicians who are responsible for interfering with the running of the SABC should hang their heads in shame. They are helping to keep the SABC in reverse gear determined to take us back many years.

This is unacceptable and so unnecessary at a time when our country can least afford it.

Is there anyone in the upper echelons of both the SABC and government leadership that fully realises how serious this situation is?

If Jimi’s letter is not a wake-up call, then nothing will be. His short but precise statement is courageous and he deserves the support of all of us.

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