The Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) has dismissed the SABC’s complaint against ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte after a confrontation she had with its staff at the elections results centre last November.
The SABC complained that Duarte made comments to its journalists, including now axed head of news Phathiswa Magopeni, allegedly accusing the public broadcaster of being biased and discriminatory against the ANC.
It said her comments were harassment and intimidation of its journalists and such behaviour breached the Electoral Code of Conduct.
The IEC disagreed, saying in its findings sent to the corporation this week that “the SABC has not provided evidence that demonstrates a breach of the code by Duarte or the ANC”.
“In the commission’s view, there is nothing suggesting Ms Duarte, in expressing herself in the manner in which she did, frustrated or impeded SABC journalists from doing their work during their coverage of the elections at the results centre.
“The commission holds the view that Ms Duarte was expressing her opinion, albeit in a strong tone, about the manner in which she believed the SABC was reporting on the ANC.
“The commission notes that none of the affected journalists had suggested in their statements that Ms Duarte made any threat against them, an act which would constitute intimidation and harassment of the journalists,” said the IEC in a letter dated March 14.