Mixed reaction to SABC chief’s ‘surprise appointment’

2012-01-17 13:08

The appointment of Lulama Mokhobo as the SABC’s eighth chief executive since 2005, was “quite a surprise”, according to the SABC’s biggest union.

Mokhobo, the SABC’s first female chief executive, replaces news and current affairs head Phil Molefe, who held the position temporarily from July last year.

Broadcasting, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers Union (Bemawu) president Hannes du Buisson described Mokhobo’s appointment as surprising, adding that she had never struck Bemawu as someone who would lead the SABC.

He said it was too early to tell how she would fare.

Mokhobo, who turns 57 in October, was previously the SABC’s public broadcasting services (PBS) executive responsible for television channels, SABC1 and SABC2 as well as 14 radio stations.

Du Buisson said PBS was underperforming during her tenure but an SABC source told City Press that Mokhobo had helped the public broadcaster reach radio figures of 66% audience share for the first time since the 2008/09 financial year by the end of July 2010.

Her departure in June 2010 created friction among SABC board members with some refusing to approve the appointment of her replacement, then SABC2 general manager Bessie Tugwana.

City Press reported in August 2010 that former board member Barbara Masekela refused to vote for Tugwana’s appointment, saying it would be dereliction of duty as a director to sign a decision that had not been motivated.

Mokhobo had been at the SABC for five years when she left.

She joined listed mining firm, Miranda Minerals, and became its chairperson in April last year until she resigned last week.

Among her most pressing challenges is stabilising the SABC, ensure that the turnaround strategy is implemented and to fill the vacant executive positions with suitable and qualified people, according to Du Buisson.

Last year, Molefe replaced another acting chief executive, Robin Nicholson, who was also the public broadcaster’s chief financial officer.

Solly Mokoetle also did not last long as he was removed early last year but not before a golden handshake of more than R3 million was paid to him.

Before Mokoetle, axed former acting chief executive Gab Mampone occupied the office, having replaced lawyer Dali Mpofu, who left with a R14.1 million golden handshake (including legal fees).

Mpofu had replaced Peter Matlare.

Controversial former radio talkshow producer Hlaudi Motsoeneng briefly held the reigns last year when Molefe was out of the country.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said his new boss had yet to report for duty and would only be available for interviews after meeting the public broadcaster’s staff.

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