SABC delays action on Hlaudi Motsoeneng

2014-04-20 15:00

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The SABC board is likely to miss the Public Protector’s deadline for action against controversial acting chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng, after Thuli Madonsela’s office found he lied about his qualifications and received irregular pay increases.

This was according to Communications Minister Yunus Carrim in an interview with City Press on Friday.

Motsoeneng is at the centre of the SABC’s controversial elections coverage, which includes pulling a DA election advert, and instructions to limit the coverage of opposition parties.

Carrim said he referred all complaints about the coverage to board chair Ellen Tshabalala. He said although the public expected him to take action against Motsoeneng, his hands were tied.

“I am constantly accosted by both people who want me to dismiss or retain Mr Motsoeneng. But I have no such arbitrary powers. It is for the board to make any such decision and then refer it to us,” he said.

In February, Madonsela urged Carrim to fill the long-vacant post of chief operating officer with a suitably qualified permanent candidate within 90 days. But it is unlikely this deadline will be met.

“With the SABC’s coverage of the elections and the challenges around this, the work on the Public Protector’s report has slowed down,” Carrim said, adding the SABC had asked the Public Protector’s office and his department for an extension.

Meanwhile, Motsoeneng has allegedly accused news staff at the SABC of trying to stage a revolution against the executive. At a meeting on Tuesday, he laid down the law about leaking information to the media about management’s interference in news.

Afterwards, he allegedly called one-on-one meetings with the most outspoken staffers at which he suddenly became amicable, putting on his pastor’s cap and making concessions.

But staff say working at the SABC has become like working in a surveillance state – with the constant threat of phone monitoring and cameras tracking staff movements.

Broadcast, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers’ Union spokesperson Hannes du Buisson said: “Some of our members did complain that he had threatened them. He told them they would get fired if they were leaking information to the media, especially around interference in news.”

When asked to respond, Motsoeneng told City Press he would not comment on internal SABC matters.

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