The SABC board looks set to miss the Public Protector’s deadline to take action against acting chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng, following findings by Thuli Madonsela’s office that he lied about his qualifications and received irregular pay increases.
This is according to Communications Minister Yunus Carrim in an interview with City Press, published in today’s (20 April 2014) edition of the newspaper.
Motsoeneng is also involved in coordinating SABC’s elections coverage, which included pulling a DA election advert, and instructions to limit the coverage of opposition parties.
“I am constantly accosted by both people who want me to dismiss or retain Mr Motsoeneng. But I have no such arbitrary powers. It is for the board to make any such decision and then refer it to us,” said Carrim.
Madonsela instructed Carrim to fill the long-vacant post of chief operating officer with a suitably qualified permanent candidate in February, allowing three months for the process to be finalised. It is doubtful the deadline will be met.
“With the SABC’s coverage of the elections and the challenges around this, the work on the Public Protector’s report has slowed down,” Carrim said, adding the SABC had asked the Public Protector’s office and his department for an extension.
In the interim, Motsoeneng has allegedly accused news staff at the SABC of trying to stage a revolution. At a meeting on Tuesday, he was said to have “laid down the law” with staff about leaking information to the media about management’s interference in the news.
Staff working at the SABC said it has become like working in a surveillance state – with the constant threat of phone monitoring and cameras tracking staff movements.
Broadcast, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers’ Union spokesperson Hannes du Buisson said: “Some of our members did complain that he had threatened them. He told them they would get fired if they were leaking information to the media, especially around interference in news.”
When asked to respond, City Press quoted Motsoeneng as saying that he would not comment on internal SABC matters.