SABC, South Africa’s public broadcaster, refused to broadcast a campaign ad from the Economic Freedom Front (EFF) as it incited violence.
The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) denied that the advert was banned because it came from the EFF.
EFF’s election ad calls for people to “destroy e-Tolls”, a controversial new road tolling system.
The EFF, set up by ex-ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, is contesting an election for the first time next month.
Julius Malema likened the SABC’s actions to those used by the apartheid government, which censored messages with anti-government sentiment
“Once you suppress the people contesting elections it means you not ready to give us free and fair elections because unfair coverage leads to unfair elections,” Julius Malema told reporters in Johannesburg.
However, SABC spokesman Kaiser Kganyago said it was to do with regulations, not politics.
“They submitted it, we looked at it, and we found that we couldn’t put it on air,” the South African Press Association news agency quotes him as saying.
“The EFF, like any other political party, signed the code of conduct with the IEC [Independent Election Commission] that says it will not incite violence…. [the advert] goes against the code.”
The SABC has reportedly written to the EFF telling them to amend the advert, but the party has refused to do so.
Earlier this month, the SABC also rejected an ad from the Democratic Alliance (DA), the country’s main opposition party, saying it used language that promoted violence and amounted to a “personal attack” against President Jacob Zuma.
However, the ad was eventually aired after the Independent Communications Authority of SA’s (ICASA) complaints and compliance committee ruled in the party’s favor.
EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlovu said their party had also lodged an ICASA complaint.
The ad, which has been posted on YouTube, starts with a widow of one of the striking miners killed by police in August 2012 in what is called the Marikana massacre.
It is followed by a message from Julius Malema asking South Africans to vote against the “empty promises of the last 20 years”, then several slogans appear across the screen, one of which says: “Destroy e-tolls physically!”
Julius Malema was once a close ally of Jacob Zuma but was expelled from the governing African National Congress (ANC) in 2012 for sowing divisions in the party.
Opposition parties have in the past accused the SABC of a bias towards the ANC and censoring messages, which the broadcaster denied.
However, the refusal by the SABC to air these adverts plays into that perception.
After a hotly contested election campaign, South Africans go to the polls on May 7.
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