Newsmaker – Hlaudi Motsoeneng: ‘Life is nice’

2014-02-23 14:00

The only time acting SABC chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng was bothered by the saga surrounding his nonexistent matric ­certificate was when his 18-year-old daughter sat silently in class while others gossiped about this around her.

But for the most part, Motsoeneng seems unconcerned.

He may be unpopular in some quarters – and in trouble with Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, who this week released a series of scathing findings against him in a report titled “When governance and ethics fail” – but Motsoeneng has several high-profile supporters.

At a press conference on Thursday, radio personality Criselda Kananda and ­actress Sophie Ndaba were in the audience.

Both nodded approvingly as his lawyer, Zola Majavu, defended his client from accusations that he’s a fraudster and a liar who purges those who disagree with him.

The 45-year-old doesn’t really talk about his detractors much.

During an interview after the press conference, he prefers to talk about his – many, he says – successes at the public broadcaster since his appointment as group executive of stakeholder relations and regions three years ago.

These include the launch of the SABC’s 24-hour news channel, sorting out ­payment issues with “happy” unions and contracts with independent producers.

“I have been able to generate more than R1.2 billion at the SABC. I can’t claim it is Hlaudi alone because I lead a team, but that vision I have, we’re able to achieve.”

Motsoeneng talks about his team a lot. Himself, more.

“I’m a team player. The reason the unions are happy, among other people, is because I’m able to talk and engage, but also I’m a very stubborn person if there’s a need to be stubborn.

“But I’m not stubborn in such a way that I don’t listen. I’m stubborn in that I’m able to persuade people ... Sometimes I’m wrong and they are right, sometimes I’m right and they are wrong. We always work together.”

Don’t think that because he doesn’t have matric, he’s stupid.

“What I know is that I win most of the debates in all these meetings. They will tell you.

“When I talk about an issue, I don’t only discuss problems but solutions. I ­persuade people. Most of the time I’m able to win the debate in a proper meeting where people vote. They will vote for my views.”

During a previous interview with City Press, several colleagues popped into ­Motsoeneng’s office to extol his virtues.

He is unconcerned that Madonsela blamed him for the purge of 14 employees who disagreed with him, causing the SABC to lose R29 million in settlements.

Nor is he bothered by questions around his own salary hike, from R1.5 million to R2.4 million per year.

“For me, life is very interesting. Life is nice. I want [SABC] people to be happy. If people go to work unhappy, it means they are not productive. You want to make sure all people who work for the SABC become ambassadors for the SABC. If you look now at the people who were here [at the press briefing], you can see that people talk, but my colleagues support me.”

So, it seems, do his bosses.

SABC board chairperson Ellen Zandile Tshabalala told the Mail & Guardian this week that they accepted Madonsela’s report and would “take time to review it”.

“However, the board supports Hlaudi Motsoeneng. Hlaudi has not only done his job well, we have no doubt about his capability to deliver.”

The board issued a statement the next day denying that Tshabalala actively supports Motsoeneng.

“We would like to assure the public and all our stakeholders that the SABC is not in a crisis and that we will continue to fulfil all the obligations that we have committed to,” the statement read.

The only thing that seems to sting, though Motsoeneng doesn’t say so, is the chatter around his lack of a matric certificate.

“I did not make myself not to have matric. There were other reasons that ­prevented me from going to school. There were many issues. As you know as ­Africans, where we come from, we have to take care of our families. Those are the issues. I work very hard to ensure that my children are not in a similar situation like me.”

For those who think their jibes are getting under his skin, he has a simple message.

“If you talk about Hlaudi, that is your business. It is not my business. This is part of life. These are human beings and they will always talk about people whether it’s good or bad. I’m enjoying myself. I will deal with these issues at the right time.”

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.