I’m disappointed with the treatment Dr Snuki Zikalala has received despite his hard work which revolutionalised the SABC News from what it used to be.
I remember when he first joined SABC there was a lot of negative talk about his appointment
“The post was advertised and I went through an interviewing process about three weeks ago. I was chosen on merit, not because I’m an ANC lackey.”
Current and former employees who worked under Zikalala described his management style as “dictatorial” and said signs were that several resignations would be tendered as a result. Democratic Alliance communications spokesman Dene Smuts described Zikalala’s previous tenure at the SABC as “the lowest point in its post-1994 corporate life”. Veteran journalist and editor Allister Sparks said Zikalala’s appointment was a “retrogressive step” that harked back to the days when the SABC was under apartheid control.
Everyone was on his case not expecting him to perform but instead he disappointed them and changed what used to be Johannesburg News to South African news. He deployed journalists all over South Africa ensuring that they cover the real South African stories directly on the ground and not through telephones interviews with a snap shot (picture) of the interviewee on the back ground. There was a time when the weather channel was reported only in English and Afrikaans if reported in IsiXhosa it would be the same every day i.e. a voice over (no face) saying “kuzawuthi gqwagqwa ngamafu” every day no highs and lows or the speed of the wind etc.
He went further to set up bureaus around Africa and deployed journalists to cover those stories instead of buying them from CNN channels (you’d remember back in the days we used to have an over night CNN channel instead of SABC Africa now SABC International). International stories (including Africa) were sourced (at a price) I mean we would buy a story on Zimbabwe from CNN even though it was just next door to us.
Upon closer scrutiny it doesn’t take a genius to see that he had a plan with timelines and I’m sure part of it included having SABC International available as a subscription channel throughout the world (not just SA) thus ensuring that people abroad get the real stories from the people who know and have or are experiencing it rather than hearing it from CNN or BBC etc. which often portrayed Africa as the dark continent full of war, poverty, diseases and nothing positive.
It is this plan that the South African Broadcasting Channel failed to consider when deciding on his contract, it is this change that the media failed to report on when reflecting on his tenure at SABC.
Like Jacob Zuma people (academics and analysts especially) judged him by his qualifications i.e. where he obtained his Doctorate rather than on delivery.
Fare you well Dr Zikalala (some have noted your great contribution to SABC if not to SA).