Hlaudi: I don't want to be CEO

2014-09-28 15:00

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An attempt by a clique of SABC board members to make chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng the public broadcaster’s acting group CEO has failed.

Motsoeneng was in the running to take over the position because acting CEO Tian Olivier’s contract expires on Tuesday.

But Communications Minister Faith Muthambi opted for another candidate.

Motsoeneng’s was one of three names – together with Olivier and Anton Heunis – put forward to Muthambi by the SABC board, which was divided about the appointments.

Motsoeneng says the board put his name forward without consulting him first.

Muthambi chose to appoint Heunis, who is the SABC’s current general executive of commercial enterprises. As its revenue generator, he’s one of the most senior and well-paid people at the SABC.

Heunis, who is said to be trusted by Motsoeneng, was suspended by the SABC in 2009 when he was head of audience services after allegations – which couldn’t be backed up by evidence – that he had benefited financially from corruption identified in an Auditor-General’s report on the broadcaster.

Two sources said there was talk that Olivier had to be replaced because “he didn’t want to play ball”. It is not clear where the sticking points were.

Olivier said: “I had a three-month request to act, and it was extended for three months.” He added that he was there to do his job and “not for politics”.

Muthambi has given the board until the end of October to appoint a permanent CEO, according to her office.

City Press understands from two sources that Frans Matlala, a banking executive who has worked for FNB and Standard Bank, is the favourite to be the next CEO.

“He is a really pleasant and competent guy,” a former colleague told City Press.

Matlala is believed to be close to beleaguered SABC board chairperson Ellen Tshabalala and has been working in her office as a consultant for the SABC for “a massive fee”, an insider said.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago confirmed Matlala was working for the board.

Talib Sadik, who has previously served as chief financial officer at the broadcaster, is apparently also in the running.

Motsoeneng told City Press he was not interested in being CEO. “I haven’t applied for the CEO job. I’m comfortable and enjoying where I am. [Even if the board asks me to apply], I am comfortable where I am,” he said.

He claimed the board put forward his name without consulting him. “No one engaged me on the acting position,” he said.

The Western Cape High Court is this week set to rule on whether Motsoeneng’s appointment as chief operating officer should stand after Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found he lied about having a matric qualification when applying for a job at the broadcaster.

Tshabalala was interested in the acting position earlier this year when CEO Lulama Mokhobo resigned, but then communications minister Yunus Carrim rejected the idea on the basis that it wasn’t good governance.

Tshabalala is set to appear before Parliament’s portfolio committee on communications on October 14 after the committee recommended that she be suspended after City Press revealed that she also lied about her qualifications.

She could also be removed from the Transnet board should she not be able to provide evidence of her qualifications.

Public Enterprises spokesperson Colin Cruywagen said Minister Lynne Brown had written to Tshabalala about this.

“The minister received Ms Tshabalala’s response through her attorneys. The matter is receiving the minister’s attention,” he said.

According to Kganyago, Heunis was appointed for a month while the process of appointing a permanent CEO was under way.

“There is no target date [for the appointment]. It will happen once the board gets a suitable candidate.”

He confirmed Olivier would be going back to his position as chief financial officer.

Muthambi’s spokesperson, Bongiwe Gambu, yesterday said she could not confirm the minister’s deadline to the board

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