SABC struggle simmers

2010-01-17 07:23

A NEW power battle at the SABC is playing itself out barely a month

­after the appointment of the public broadcaster’s new chief executive, Solly


Top executives once again face an uncertain future which could

return the public broadcaster to the instability, infighting and back-stabbing

of last year.

Those who are expected to be pushed – or to quit of their own

volition – are former acting SABC boss Gab Mampone; acting chief operations

officer (COO) Charlotte Mampane; chief people officer Phumelele

Ntombela-Nzimande; and the chief ­financial officer, Robin Nicholson.

“The first people to go will be Gab and Charlotte. If Solly keeps

them it will be because of pressure (from the ANC), but they know they will have

to leave. Solly will have to build his own team from scratch,” one top official


Another said members of the executive committee were deeply

suspicious because Mokoetle, who has the support of the uMkhonto weSizwe

Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA), is expected to purge those who fought

against him while he was the SABC’s COO.

Yesterday, however, Mokoetle said that while the public

broadcaster’s group CEO had been consulted on the appointment of its head of

news and its executives, the appointment remained a prerogative of the SABC


He said moves to appoint the head of news were started by the

previous stop-gap board and continued under the current board. “I don’t know

about people who are going to quit. When you come in as CEO you ­inherit people.

That is the card I’ve been dealt.

“I will outline my vision (for the SABC), and those who want to

­contribute are welcome to stay,” Mokoetle said.

However, he did confirm that the SABC board could review the

“unwieldy” management structure of his organisation, but refused to speculate on

the likely outcome.

One ANC leader said the battle for Mokoetle was also going to

revolve around how much coverage should be given to the ANC and its rival, the

Congress of the People – which is said to enjoy the support of most senior

managers in the company.

Mokoetle is an MKMVA member. A source who spoke to City Press on

condition of anonymity said he did not work closely with former MK leader and

current Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda while the two were in


“Solly is going to be biased towards the ANC. What is going to

happen to Cope sympathisers in the organisation?” the leader asked.

The tiff between Mokoetle and Mampone started in 2008 when Mampone

wrote a letter recommending that Mokoetle be re-appointed as COO. At the time,

an angry Mokoetle said to City Press: “I don’t think Gab has any authority to

appoint me. He is a manager; how can he recommend anybody? If I were to get

there I’d fire him.”

Mampone, SABC officials and some ANC leaders said, was also

­apparently the source of recent ­media reports questioning ­Mokoetle’s


Officials say Mampone is bitter because he was one of three people

interviewed for the CEO position but failed to cut it. The ANC Youth League has

since been drawn into the saga, with some politicians suggesting the party was

supporting ­either Mampone or Telkom Media chairperson Connie Molusi.

This week Nyanda came out in support of the interim board and


“We are absolutely confident that together with the board he will

provide the correct and appropriate leadership to take this organisation where

it has to be,” outgoing interim board chair Irene Charnley said at a news

conference on Wednesday.

Last week the MKMVA said the “faceless” people said to be behind

the weekend reports should stop their mischief.

“These faceless people are promoting their mischievous agendas

through the media and providing ­incorrect information,” MKMVA leader Kebby

Maphatsoe said.

Mokoetle was SABC COO between 2001 and December 2006. On January 1

he was appointed SABC CEO for five years.

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