The ANC has reportedly called on communications minister Faith Muthambi to investigate claims that SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng is abusing his power at the state broadcaster.
This follows weeks of moves by the SABC and Motsoeneng to censor its reporting and silence detractors within.
The group implemented controversial broadcast policies – at the behest of Motsoeneng – to censor all visuals of what it called “violent protests” in South Africa; cancelled current affairs radio shows; and suspended senior journalists when they objected to these policies.
Speaking to EWN, the ANC’s Zizi Kodwa said that Motsoeneng should not be allowed to make decisions on his own.
“It would appear from a number of staff, including the former staff, that a certain individual called Hlaudi who has so much powers to amend and change the editorial independence of the SABC, we must be worried about it,” he said.
However, the ANC itself has been implicated in the SABC’s ‘bold’ new direction.
According to former acting SABC CEO Jimi Matthews, he was complicit in a decision made by the broadcaster to stop coverage of the EFF, under instruction from the ANC, he said.
Kodwa denied that the ANC had any influence over the SABC, and also dismissed Matthews’ account of what was happening at the broadcaster.
Should the department of communications investigate the goings-on at the SABC, it is uncertain what will ultimately come of it.
To date, Minister Faith Muthambi has been Motsoeneng’s biggest ally, having approved and defended his appointment as COO, despite a High Court order that he is unfit for the position, and that his appointment was irrational.
In May this year, the High Court denied leave to appeal its ruling.
The case was based on the Public Protector report on the SABC which was released in February 2015. In the report, the Protector found that Motsoeneng has in fact abused his power as COO – getting unwarranted salary increases and purging senior staff.
Despite these findings, Muthambi still made his appointment permanent – and has spent almost a year and a half defending Motsoeneng in court.