The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) expressed concern on Friday at interference with the audio and visual feed in parliament whenever there are disruptions.
“Sanef is disturbed by the continuing interference with the audio and visual feeds from parliament each time there is chaos in the national assembly,” Sanef chairman Mpumelelo Mkhabela said in a statement.
“On Thursday, the feed was cut off at a time when there were scuffles. This followed two other incidents on 21 August and last week when a member of the opposition was arguing with the speaker ending with that member being suspended.”
In the latter incident, the feed was manipulated to stay focused on the speaker, and did not allow the public to get the full view of what was happening in the house, he said.
Sanef sent a letter to parliament spokesman Luzuko Jacobs on Monday, protesting against the “soft censorship” creeping into the broadcast of proceedings, and requested a meeting.
“Sanef reiterates its call for presiding officers in parliament to ensure that there is no censorship of the debates in the house, irrespective of the content of those debates, and the need for presiding officers to protect the image of the house,” said Mkhabela.
“We also call for a speedy arrangement of the meeting to fully discuss these issues.”
On Thursday, chaos erupted in parliament when opposition parties shouted down national assembly speaker Baleka Mbete when she tried to prevent them from bringing dozens of motions.
Later, deputy speaker Lechesa had to manage the motions in what appeared to be an opposition filibuster.
Most of attempted motions were related to spending on so-called security upgrades at President Jacob Zuma’s homestead at Nkandla, in KwaZulu-Natal, and which public protector Thuli Madonsela found he unduly benefited from.
Tempers flared as ANC MPs retaliated by objecting to the which were delaying the tabling of a report on the upgrades.
Later, the police entered the national assembly chamber and a scuffle ensued.
This came after Economic Freedom Fighters MP Ngwanamakwetle Mashabela called Zuma a “thief” and refused to withdraw it or leave the House when ordered to do so by Deputy Speaker Cedric Frolick.
Opposition MPs tried to prevent the police from moving her and the live televised feed to parliament was cut. — Sapa