The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) on Wednesday distanced itself from the controversial comments by its former chief operating officer (COO), Hlaudi Motsoaneng, that the interim board had no credibility.
Motsoeneng lashed out at the MPs who constituted a Parliament ad hoc committee to probe the fitness to hold office of the previous SABC board and claimed that he did nothing wrong by implementing decisions such as ensuring 90 percent local content.
He also accused board member and human rights lawyer Krish Naidoo of having a conflict of interest.
Responding to Motsoeneng’s marathon media briefing, SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said the broadcaster’s board would not be drawn to a public spat with Motsoeneng.
SABC’s interim board began work earlier this month after new Communications Minister, Ayanda Dlodlo, gave it the green light following former Minister Faith Muthambi’s attempts to halt its work.
“We have noted Hlaudi’s press conference and we are following it. But we are not going to be responding to Hlaudi because, like any other employee, this is a human capital department matter,” Kganaygo said.
“The board will not communicate with him through the media and will not respond. But it will engage with him directly as an employee. The Board has six months to fix things [at] the SABC, including the finances and paying off service providers.”
Motsoeneng was replaced at the public broadcaster after a damning Parliament’s ad hoc committee report that found that the previous board had mismanaged the SABC, leading to loss of hundreds of millions of rands. The SABC reportedly needs as much as R3 billion in a form of a bailout.
The Parliament’s ad hoc committee report followed a series of court actions, including a 2015 high court ruling that found that Motsoeneng’s appointment as COO was unlawful.
Among the controversial decisions Mostoeneng enforced at the SABC while at the helm are the 90 percent local content on radio, banning of violent protests on TV, banning of reading newspaper headlines on radio, banning open-line calls on talk shows, canning of Vuyo Mvoko’s “On The Record” TV programme, and increasing his salary by almost R1 million, from R2.8 to R3.7 million
Kganyago admitted that the SABC was under financial strain but said it cannot be concluded that the 90/10 principle introduced by Motsoeneng was responsible for that as the board yet to make a determination.
“The SABC is in financial crisis as we speak as we said a few weeks ago. We stipulated at the time that factors, among others, such as the economy are doing well at the moment. It is not only SABC suffering. A lot of print media is suffering and we cannot be immune to that,” Kganyago said.
“The board is going to go through each and every decision we took the previous year, if any we took wrongly they are going reverse them. The board will also look into 90/10 principle because it was a decision we made at the time. If there is decline of viewership because of 90/10 we will present such to the board.”
– African News Agency (ANA)