Knives out for Robert Marawa

2013-07-21 14:00

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Metro FM host takes ‘gatvol’ leave and the move leaves his SABC bosses livid

SABC knives are out for popular Metro FM sports host Robert Marawa, who nearly threw the station’s programming into disarray by taking sudden leave on Monday.

It is claimed Marawa told his bosses he was not going to be there the next day, taking what sources have described as “gatvol” leave.

This was reportedly after he learnt of plans to elbow him out of the country’s second-biggest radio station because he rejected the state broadcaster’s offer to join TV breakfast show Morning Live last month.

In a written statement, Marawa accused SABC Sports head Sizwe Nzimande as the one “advocating” his removal.

“There have been so-called plans to elbow me out for as long as I can remember, but senior SABC executives have always supported my work and given me the tools to improve the quality of what I do,” he said. “I’m not fazed because my work at the public broadcaster is for the public.”

After Marawa left, said a senior SABC official who spoke on condition of anonymity, Metro station manager Martin Vilakazi wanted to suspend his programme, 083 Sports@6, broadcast on weekdays, until Marawa returned in early August.

But Vilakazi was overruled by SABC head of radio Lesley Nhleko, who quickly found a replacement in SABC TV sports jock Thomas Mlambo. Mlambo used to work for SuperSport – Marawa’s current TV channel.

“They wanted to shelve the programme and replace it with hip-hop music,” said the senior official.

“Lesley fiercely opposed this plan, because you can’t have the station’s programming changed because of one individual.”

The official also said that after Marawa told his managers he was taking leave, his producer followed suit, but “changed her mind when she heard that Thomas was coming to do the show”.

The official said the SABC will likely not renew Marawa’s contract with Metro FM, because they’re not happy with him working for a rival media house.

A sports commentator employed by the SABC, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, claimed Marawa left SABC television because of a lack of professionalism at the broadcaster.

“They must stop bullying Marawa and set their ducks in order if they want him back.”

Marawa, meanwhile, has denied claims he took “gatvol” leave.

“Every year, during the off season I go home to KwaZulu-Natal and also to a health centre that puts me through a week-long programme. The late request was due to the late confirmation of my booking at the health centre, which I’ve had to further reschedule. I will be back on air on August 5,” he said in his email.

Marawa refused to comment on allegations that he rejected the offer to replace the late Vuyo Mbuli on Morning Live.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said it was not true the broadcaster planned not to renew Marawa’s contract.

“We are not at liberty to discuss contractual relationships between the SABC and any of its suppliers, freelance staff or any or any other partner,” he said.

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