SABC: Molefe is head of news

2010-06-02 12:14

Johannesburg – SABC CEO Solly Mokoetle has announced that Phil Molefe was indeed the public broadcaster's new head of news, despite the board opposing the appointment.

"He (Molefe) was introduced by the CEO as such (head of news)... yesterday was June 1, according to the appointment, his first day in office," said SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago on Wednesday.

Mokoetle introduced Molefe on Tuesday to staff as the new news boss.

Asked if this was not in defiance of the SABC board, Kganyago replied: "That is not for me to comment on."

Board member unaware

A board member contacted by Sapa was unaware of the latest development, saying the board would comment later in the day.

Last weekend, 10 members of the 12-member SABC board held a meeting to discuss the appointment of Molefe.

Afterwards, Kganyago said in a statement: "The SABC board resolved that the purported appointment of the group executive news and current affairs head, Mr Phil Molefe is null and void and has no legal effect."

Reports suggested that Mokoetle and board chairman Ben Ngubane were in favour of Molefe's appointment but the rest of the board was opposed to it.

Disciplinary hearing

Meanwhile, Kganyago on Wednesday denied reports that the head of radio, Mapule Mbhalati, faced disciplinary action for airing the statement by the board that Molefe's appointment was null and void.

She had since requested to go on early retirement.

"She was never disciplined... there is no such thing. There was no pending disciplinary hearing against her," said Kganyago.

"I don't think there's any problem when people ask for early retirement... now they (media reports) want to bring the connotation that she was pushed, which I don't understand. There's no evidence to support that."

Centre of controversy

Senior positions at the public broadcaster had been the centre of controversy for months.

In January, the new SABC board was said to be unhappy with the appointment of Mokoetle – the former Telkom Media chief content officer – as the CEO.

He was appointed by Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda, and not by the board.

Mokoetle, who was the SABC's chief operations officer between 2001 and December 2006, succeeded Dali Mpofu, who was paid R11m to leave the broadcaster.

Public spat

Mpofu's departure came after he had a public spat with the then head of news Snuki Zikalala, whom he accused of leaking confidential SABC documents to the media.

Mpofu subsequently suspended Zikalala, but then the board suspended Mpofu.

At the time, it emerged that the SABC was in dire financial straits.

In July last year, the SABC reported a loss of R839m for the past financial year.