Image Credit: Zalene Merrington

Are South African Indians Just Being Racist?

Just as the SABC COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng was in the middle of a debate over broadcast reform on Newsbreak Lotus FM, this form of cultural appropriation shocked the South African Indian community and has forced them to look inwards.

Are South African Indians just being racist?

local music
Hlaudi Motsoeneng quoted on Lotus FM on the Newsbreak show this past weekend.

In the midst of the controversy of #LocalMusic, listeners of the SABC’s Lotus FM seem to be the only ethnic group that’s boycotting the SABC’s broadcast reform policy of 90% local content, though, is it just in this 21st century South Africa, that some Indians continue to be racist in this renaissance of broadcasting?

Or is it just that Indians of South Africa are exercising their right to challenge what is being seen as a harsh violation of access to their cultural heritage?

South Africa has a complicated history, from the depths of apartheid, then two decades over Indians like every other ethnic denomination are still dealing with and healing from that ‘fractious’ policy. Black on white racism is more prevalent in the media as of late, but the more insidious brown on black kind lies deep further the below the surface.

Indians, bore the brunt of segregation practice in the apartheid era and whites were positioned on the top of

the pyramid. Indians were championing the case as being victims of racism rather than being seen as perpetrators of racism. Is that a correct assumption?

There is a considerable about of concealed racial antagonism that has below the surface between the Blacks and Indians that explodes occasionally and we have to admit to that.

In South Africa where Indians themselves felt the abuse of power against them like other ethnic groups and being deemed inferior, why would they end up becoming perpetrators of racism in the context of the broadcast reform that is pushing local content first over foreign media?

Indians: Move away from tribalism thinking. We think about the nation. We think as South Africans. – Hlaudi Motsoeneng, SABC COO

Jay Naidoo’s Green Paper

The SABC broadcast reform policy, had a birthing in the year 1997. The South African government issued a ‘Green Paper’ to fulfil its mandate to free the airwaves and construct a broadcasting dispensation, which meets the needs of all the South African people.

An excerpt from the Foreword of the ‘Green Paper’ states the following of which the SABC has fundamentally violated in the context of the South African Indians interests.

” The South African Constitution guarantees fundamental rights to all South Africans; including the right to participate in an informed way in all social and political processes. The right to freedom of expression is also guaranteed. Broadcasting is a pervasive means of providing news and information, and as such is fundamental to the realization of these fundamental rights.

This transformation of broadcasting is underpinned by the need to entrench the democratisation of the South African society and the respect of the Constitutional provisions including the fundamental rights.”

The Minister for Posts, Telecommunications and Broadcasting, Honourable Jay Naidoo initiated the ‘Policy Process’ in 1998 to look into the broadcasting industry and advise Government on key policy considerations.

According to the Policy Process of the Green Paper, the broadcasting reform policy was the process to democratise and free the airwaves, underway since the start of the political transformation of South Africa and its broadcasting system.  It is anchored on the provisions of the South African Constitution and the Independent Broadcasting Authority Act of 1993 and its provisions for the regulation of broadcasting in the public interest in South Africa.

If we have to look at the current state of the 90/10 implementation that has impacted Lotus FM,  this has failed to meet the needs as per recommendation in accordance South African Constitution where fundamental rights of the South African have not been upheld.

Jay Naidoo made clear reference that the broadcast reform policy should take guidance from India.

South Africa is commonly identified as a developing country. Yet certain aspects of our economy and industry are quite well developed. As a developing country South Africa can relate to other developing countries with similar economic, cultural and social contexts (such as India) to share experiences and expertise.

South Africa can also gain a lot from relations with developed countries, especially in the area of new technological developments. South Africa can position itself as a leader in broadcasting in the developing world and can export a lot of technology and applications that are suitable for developing countries.

Since local content is the cornerstone of broadcasting policy, it is important that the financing of programming is properly established. At present, local programming is financed through SABC revenues however where has this funding gone to? An hour on a Sunday to Indians on national television?

About Naufal Khan

Naufal Khan was the Publisher at ADISHAKTI MEDIA and the editor-in-chief of the South African Indian news service Indian Spice. Khan was former Sunday Times journalist and also an occult fiction and non-fiction writer with several published titles.

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