SABC staff in Mpumalanga want their chief fired

2017-05-21 05:51
Quinton Lenyai

Quinton Lenyai

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Disgruntled Mpumalanga SABC staff members are demanding the removal of regional manager Quinton Lenyai, who is being accused of abuse of power and alleged nepotism.

Lenyai is close to suspended SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng and had allegedly harassed employees who did not agree with Motsoeneng’s policy decisions.

The dispute came to the fore last year when Lenyai refused to accept a memorandum from the SA Communist Party or send a representative when the party staged nationwide pickets at SABC offices after Motsoeneng had banned the broadcaster’s news department from covering service-delivery protests.

Another sore point among staff is that Lenyai suspended popular Ligwalagwala FM station manager Vusi “Rio” Mabunda in June last year, citing financial irregularities, but he was only officially charged on April 18 this year. Mabunda has attended a disciplinary hearing once since he was suspended, on April 22. The hearing continues tomorrow.

Lenyai, according to the staff members’ letter detailing the grievances, has allegedly been intimidating and victimising employees who differed from him or belonged to a labour union.

“Lenyai is intolerant to other people’s opinions, especially those that differ from his. Staff members are always looking over their shoulders. We believe [his] threats because Ligwalagwala FM does not have a station manager [any more],” reads the grievance letter.

After his arrival at the SABC’s Mpumalanga office about two years ago, Lenyai also allegedly cancelled the contract of a cleaning company and appointed another one, Nozinhle Cleaning Services, where his wife, Memory Lenyai, used to work.

Nozinhle Cleaning Services’ owner Dolly Mbuyana defended her former employee, saying the company had won the contract fairly, adding that it was merely a “coincidence” that Memory’s husband worked at the SABC. Employees have called for an investigation into the matter, which has left SABC cleaning staff jobless.

The SABC’s head office is reportedly investigating the cleaning contract, but Lenyai has not been suspended from work like Mabunda, which employees regard as double standards from the public broadcaster’s management.

Grievances

The grievances, which City Press has seen, include:

- Lenyai is allegedly bleeding the cash-strapped SABC dry by paying allowances for stand-in staff as a result of Mabunda’s lengthy suspension. Programme manager Ntfonjana Dlamini is acting in Mabunda’s position while another official is standing in as programme manager.

Lenyai allegedly instructed the news unit and Ligwalagwala FM to report directly to him and he has allegedly been interfering with the duties of TV assignment editors, instructing them which stories to broadcast.

- Lenyai allegedly threatened the provincial management team; subjected a journalist, who is a
shop steward, to a disciplinary hearing for raising employee issues; and denied staff members a Christmas party.

“The environment under the current leadership is depressing and staff morale is low ... we work under a grip of fear, intimidation and victimisation. Staff members are always reminded that they could be dismissed at any time,” reads the grievance letter.

Lenyai referred City Press’ questions to SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago, who also declined to comment about the grievances, saying: “The SABC will not discuss these issues as they are internal matters that are being dealt with.

“If any of your sources would like to know what is happening, they know the correct processes to follow within the organisation,” Kganyago said.

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