CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA Jul 19 2010 17:19
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The African National Congress (ANC) on Monday again denied instructing the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) not to interview former president Thabo Mbeki.
The party said it was "taken aback" by assertions that it had issued such a decree.
"The ANC would like to put it on record that none of its leaders and none of its members 'instructed' anyone in the SABC not to interview comrade Thabo Mbeki," spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said in a statement.
He said the SABC had also told the party that no one at the public broadcaster had been given such an instruction by the ANC.
It denied that a discussion to "ban" Mbeki ever took place.
Mthembu said the ANC would never attempt to influence the editorial decisions of the public broadcaster and never had any such an intention.
"We hold a view that every citizen, rich or poor, black or white, male or female, should have a right to access the public broadcaster, including comrade Thabo Mbeki."
The ANC would never undermine the very democratic values that many of its members and leaders died fighting for, including the independence of the media and the public broadcaster.
"We will stop at nothing to protect such a right and freedom as enshrined in our Constitution," Mthembu said.
Last week the SABC denied as "false" reports that it had banned television and radio coverage of Mbeki.
"The SABC rejects with the contempt it deserves the article 'SABC news boss Molefe bans Mbeki', which appeared in today's [July 11] edition of the Sunday Times," spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said in a statement.
"The article ... is totally false, malicious, intended to mislead and without base."
The Sunday Times reported that ANC headquarters allegedly instructed SABC head of news Phil Molefe not to broadcast any interviews with Mbeki or any items about the former president.
Molefe reportedly called a meeting with senior news executives, where he told them that Mbeki's appearance on SABC television undermined ANC leader President Jacob Zuma.
"We would therefore like to indicate that there was never any instruction given to anybody or any intention to ban former president Mbeki from any of our platforms," Kganyago said. He said the SABC had not received any instruction from Luthuli house, as alleged. -- Sapa