Confirmed: SABC boss quits

2014-02-03 14:09

The SABC has confirmed that Group Chief Executive Officer Lulama Mokhobo will be leaving the broadcaster for “personal and confidential” reasons.

It was not clear from the statement whether the broadcaster’s first female CEO jumped or was pushed. Either way, the decision will need to be approved by the president.

The SABC’s statement comes after a week of fierce speculation that Mokhobo was throwing in the towel after two years at the helm of the public broadcaster because her decisions were repeatedly undermined.

The move also comes ahead of the release of a potentially damning Public Protector report on mismanagement at the SABC, titled The Blame Game.

As reported in City Press, Mokhobo has been implicated in the Public Protector’s investigation into the SABC – although it is Motsoeneng who faces far harsher recommended disciplinary action in the provisional report.

A final version of The Blame Game is due out “very soon” according to Public Protector spokesperson Kgalalelo Masibi.

The report recommends disciplinary action against Mokhobo “for her abuse of power and improper conduct in the appointments and salary increments” of Motsoeneng and his associate, Sully Motsweni.

The SABC’s statement says Mokhobo “will be leaving the organisation at the end of February 2014”. The SABC board and Mokhobo “have amicably agreed to part ways,” it says, thanking Mokhobo for her term.

It also quotes the minister of communications, Yunus Carrim, saying: “We are informed that this was a mutually agreed separation, and accepted by the board. Obviously, we are concerned about stability at the SABC and urge that the vacant senior posts be filled as soon as possible.”

The website TechCentral this morning reported “Mokhobo is said to be stepping down because her situation has become untenable. Two centres of power have emerged at the public broadcaster, one in the CEO’s office and the other in the office of acting group chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng.”

According to unconfirmed reports from sources at the SABC, Mokhobo on Friday negotiated the terms of her resignation at a board meeting.

She is believed to have asked to be paid out for her full five-year term.

TechCentral quotes Democratic Alliance MP Marian Shinn, saying Mokhobo’s exit was symptomatic of the “perpetual chaos” at the SABC and that it’s clear Mokhobo was “not strong enough” to resist Motsoeneng.

Mokhobo’s resignation leaves the SABC without a single permanent senior executive in office, only acting executives.

It’s a matter that raises concern for industry bodies and the public, says the SOS Coalition’s Sekoetlane Phamodi. SOS fights for a healthy public broadcaster and is allied with the Right to Know campaign and Cosatu as well as the industry.

“We cannot accept her resignation,” Phamodi told City Press. “It will leave the SABC rudderless. We also cannot accept the culture of resignations being followed by hefty payouts. A resignation means you have failed. This means we are rewarding failure.”

Phamodi said SOS “will be convening a public meeting to figure out how to reclaim our public broadcaster. We will also be calling for mass public action.”

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