Tannie Evita Bezuidenhout has poked fun at the ongoing censorship controversy at the SABC, congratulating the broadcaster’s Hlaudi Motsoeneng for keeping the news “nice and comfortable”.
“No one quite knows what is going on; so what is going on? Ag mense, it’s called freedom of expression,” said the self-proclaimed “most famous white woman in South Africa” in a video posted on YouTube on Sunday.
Dressed in a fire-engine red top matched by a fetching lipstick in the same shade, a bold gold chain necklace, thick glasses last in fashion in the 1970s and with eyes highlighted by sweeps of Liz Taylor violet blue eye shadow, Tannie Evita said while the National Party had censorship down to a “fine art”, Motsoeneng too was managing to ensure “all the news [is] nice and comfortable”.
In May this year, Motsoeneng, the SABC’s chief operating officer, announced that the broadcaster would no longer show the destruction of property during protests. He argued showing such footage would encourage others to do the same.
In the wake of this decision, acting SABC CEO Jimi Matthews resigned and eight SABC journalists were suspended, civil society protests erupted and communications regulator Icasa held public hearings into the apparent censorship.
On Sunday, Bezuidenhout urged South Africans not to get upset about the shenanigans at the SABC. “The ANC is getting a little bit upset because it’s attacking freedom of expression which they stand for — and there is an election which is coming up — so you know ‘gaan die poppe a bietjie dans’ [Will the dolls dance a little]?”
During an ANC media briefing last week, ANC NEC subcommittee on communications chairman Jackson Mthembu suggested the broadcaster had contravened the constitution as well as ANC policy. He also said its management was “lacking”.
Nevertheless, Bezuidenhout said in her broadcast, Motsoeneng had some supporters due to his insistence on local content quotas. “All the actors are saying ‘Viva Hlaudi; let every dark Hlaudi have a silver lining’”.
The tannie said Motsoeneng would have done well in the old South Africa. “He [Motsoeneng] could have worked for the SABC: he would have been tea boy for the SAUK or the parking attendant — because you didn’t need matric for either of those jobs.”
But, she said, censorship today was different to that of the apartheid era because now — especially with the rise of the Internet and the social media — South Africans had choice.
“Today there is something very, very special that you and I can celebrate: firstly, it is called ‘delete’; secondly, it is called ‘switch off’; thirdly, it is called ‘find another channel’.”
“You don’t have to be terrorised by a sense of SABC.”
Bezuidenhout said she was waiting for advertisers to pull out of the SABC but worried then about what the broadcaster would do for “petty cash”.
She extended her concern to President Jacob Zuma’s finances as well — following a report by national treasury that he needed to repay R7,8m for non-security upgrades to his Nkandla homestead, in compliance with a constitutional court’s ruling about the matter made in March this year.
“Siestog! Did you know that President Jacob Zuma’s family are bankrupt?” lamented Bezuidenhout. “They don’t have any money to pay back the money.”
Pulling out a glass jar labelled “#1″, and filled with coins, Tannie Evita said that she had now started a fund to support “number 1”.
Ending her broadcast, Bezuidenhout said that she was off to watch TV. “Now I am going to watch the television news, the BBC, to find out what is happening down the road.”