RE: Complaint against SABC false narrative on Zimbabwean sanctions

Attention: Madoda Mxakwe, Bongumusa Makhathin, Mr. Ian Plaatjes, Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa, Auckland Park, Johannesburg

My name is Nosipo Bekani – director of Frontline Strat Marketing Consultancy (Pty) Ltd as well as a Director of Zimbabweans Unite Against US War Sanctions (ZUAUWS) a civil society organisation that is fighting unilateral sanctions upon Zimbabwe, based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Over the past 20 years, Zimbabwe has been under unilateral, coercive, economic measures (sanctions), imposed by the US and its Western allies (UK, EU, Australia and Canada).

And within that period, I have been flabbergasted by the way SABC (South African Broadcasting Corporation) has advanced the false narrative that these sanctions are targeted on individuals who violate human rights and not upon civilians.

As a civil society organization that is fighting these sanctions, we have attempted to reach out to the broadcaster on numerous occasions to explain that these sanctions which have been labelled unilateral coercive economic measures by the UN Human Rights Council, are illegal in international law and a violation of human rights, according to resolution HRC/34/13.

Nevertheless, the SABC has continued to support the false narrative that the sanctions on Zimbabwe are targeted and not hurting civilians. On 24 March 2017, the Human Rights Council adopted resolution 34/13 on human rights and unilateral coercive measures.



The resolution stresses that unilateral coercive measures and legislation are contrary to international law, international humanitarian law, the Charter and the norms and principles governing peaceful relations among States, and highlights that on long-term, these measures may result in social problems and raise humanitarian concerns in the States targeted.

And whenever we have made an effort to send a member of our institution, to come and explain the fact that the sanctions on Zimbabwe are human rights violations if not crimes against humanity, we have found the SABC hostile to these facts.

It seems as if the SABC is hellbent on maintaining the false narrative that the sanctions on Zimbabwe are not upon the Zimbabwean people, however, now we would like to draw your attention to the fact that the UN Human Rights Council is sending the Special Rapporteur who deals with the negative impact of sanctions on civilians’ enjoyment of their human rights.

This I believe should serve as evidence and proof [as we have been saying for years] that the sanctions on Zimbabwe are a collective punishment of civilians depriving them of the enjoyment of their human rights.


A position contrary to the false narrative that the SABC and journalist such as Sophie Mokwena have misled the African public with for years, despite the facts.

Over the past 20 years, we South Africans have seen 3 million refugees displaced from Zimbabwe into our country since the advent of sanctions, a clear indication that these illegal unilateral sanctions have created a humanitarian crisis in Southern Africa, that is spilling into South Africa.

I therefore cannot understand why the SABC continues to ignore this crisis, neither can I understand why it sidelines anyone who seems to understand the human rights crisis in Zimbabwe, yet they continue to give a disproportionate coverage to the opposition party of Zimbabwe that called for these sanctions and activists paid by the West to continue to advance the false narrative that the unilateral sanctions have no impact on civilians.




Now that the UN Human Rights Council have acknowledged that sanctions on Zimbabwe are unilateral coercive measures that are illegal and impacting human rights; we would like to urge your organization to begin to give civil society organizations that are in solidarity with Zimbabweans an opportunity to air the truth about the crime against humanity prevailing in that country and affecting the entire SADC region, in particular South Africa.

The South African President, SADC and AU leaders have come together with Zimbabwe to fight against these illegal sanctions in order to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in our neighbour. We believe that as a national broadcaster you have an obligation to serve the South African people alongside the SADC and AU publics which you reach through DSTV. I, as a South African feel cheated and let down by the propaganda and lies that your broadcaster has been advancing to the South African public.

Consequently, I am writing this letter to officially alert you of my organization’s grievance and to request that you give a balanced narrative on the issue of sanctions and not to only call anti Zimbabwean activists, the opposition that called for the sanctions and people ignorant about sanctions in pursuit of SABC’s agenda for undemocratic regime change in Zimbabwe. We insist that now you give a disproportionate opportunity to those that understand sanctions in Zimbabwe to undo your deliberate disinformation to South Africans and the continent.



One of our members who happens to be one of the most authoritative minds on sanctions – Rutendo Matinyarare – has only been invited to SABC once in the last 3 years.

Yet Rutendo is the one who pushed the United States Congress Subcommittee on Global Human Rights Health and Organisation to begin undertaking an impact assessment of US sanctions on Human Rights and Health in the whole of Africa.

Rutendo was also behind lobbying the Zimbabwean government to undertake a public campaign against sanctions hand in hand with SADC and AU.

What is surprising is SABC has deliberately shunned those who know the facts about sanctions, while inviting antigovernment activists like Fadzai Mahere, Hopewell Chin’ono, Tinashe Mambewu and phony Human Rights director at Human Rights Watch Dewa Mavinga on regular SABC slots where they peddle lies that the sanctions are justified because they are targeted at politicians who violate human rights.

I would like to put on record now that no Zimbabwean (politicians or other) has ever be tried in court, given an opportunity to defend themselves and then found guilty of violating human rights to justify punishment by sanctions.

That means that the so-called targeted individuals, and the civilians of Zimbabwe who are being punished by these sanctions are being punished without trial, which is a violation of the universal bill of rights.



It is therefore unconscionable that the leading public broadcaster in Africa continues to support and condone the punishment of African civilians, investors, business people and politicians without trial, yet extrajudicial punishment is against the South African Constitution, international Human Rights law and international custom.

We are challenging you as a public broadcaster to begin to be fair, honest, and unbiased in reporting about Zimbabwe to induce solidarity for people your reports have demonized and dehumanised through falsehoods and misrepresentation as if Zimbabwean humanity is secondary to the humanity of other people.

We are registering this as our first complaint to the SABC, and if indeed this unfair, unequal narrative on Zimbabwe and the muzzling of voices that seek to bring attention to the human rights violation taking place due to illegal, unilateral coercive measures by the West on Zimbabwe; we will send a complaint to the BCCSA, if need be, we will approach the local courts to address your contravention of the Broadcasting Act 4 1999.



We will also weigh the options of using continental and international courts like the ICC and ICJ for what we believe is discriminatory, propaganda to perpetuate the suffering of people in Zimbabwe with the intention of pushing them to overthrow their government.

We also believe that the SABC by bringing people like Ike Khumalo on the station to peddle lies about immigrants, while deliberately hiding facts behind the situation in Zimbabwe, is the broadcaster manufacturing consent for Zimbabwephobia and xenophobic attacks to force Zimbabweans back to a country being destroyed by economic warfare as a means to force them to revolt against their government.

We are tired of SABC being an instrument used to divide Africa as it was during the apartheid era and I hope you will address these concerns or we will begin to hold you accountable for your culpability in perpetuating the crimes against humanity of sanctions and the xenophobic attacks emanating from your disinformation.


Nosipo Bekani is Director of ZUAUWS. Contact 084 834 6643. Rutendo Matinyarare is co-Director of ZUAUWS. Contact 072 747 5820 for all feedback. The views express do not necessarily represent the views or editorial policy of The Sunday Express. This letter is published as supplied to The Sunday Express and in Conversation with the signed authors. Stay In Touch With The Sunday Express For The Full Interview with Rutendo Matinyarare on StarSat Channel 120.


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