Mahlatse Mahlase

The ANC should be ashamed for giving us Hlaudi

2017-04-20 12:46
Hlaudi Motsoeneng. (Picture: Felix Dlangamandla)

Hlaudi Motsoeneng. (Picture: Felix Dlangamandla)

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The ANC, or perhaps President Jacob Zuma’s faction, should hang its head in shame for giving us Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

Watching the SABC's former Chief Operating Officer and the cringeworthy theatrics that came along with him on Tuesday was just too painful.

At points during the five hour charade, I actually shed tears. How did we get here as a nation?

This demagogue - who speaks of himself in the third person, believes South Africa loves him, and has delusions of grandeur that he has presidential quality, propped up by cheerleaders who affirm his being - was once one of the most powerful people in this country. It seems he still believes that power belongs to him.

He was put in charge of an institution at the centre of any democracy, ostensibly to breathe life into it. The reality of what unfolded was enough to bring me to tears.

Let me confess, I am a former employee of the SABC and my career started in the public broadcaster. The definition of news according to Hlaudi was one of the main reasons I decided to jump ship.

I was part of the "politics elections workshop" that he repeatedly mentioned. It was at that workshop that he told us that he was the "alpha and omega", and that it was either his way or the window (it should have been his way or the highway). This was no idle threat. We saw him in action.

When he learnt during the workshop that he had been carried live on the Friday night instead of President Jacob Zuma, who addressed the ANC Gauteng Provincial General Council, he summarily summoned all the bosses that evening, but luckily someone managed to convince him that they should rather have the meeting on the Sunday at 7am. It was at that meeting where he demonstrated his power; demoting bosses, promoting others - no paper work, no hearings. The alpha and omega had spoken.

He had amassed significant power, had managed to turn the position of COO into the most powerful role at the broadcaster, reducing the CEO to a mere rubber stamping authority.

The COO had made himself the Editor-in-Chief without following due process. The board was missing in action.

As much as Motsoeneng believes in his "no matric intellect" and his divine powers as our saviour, his ridiculously long stint lasted only because the governing party allowed him to be there. This is shameful.

For as long as he served a purpose for a certain faction, the ANC did nothing. Parliament, or should we say, the majority party, glossed over issues when the SABC appeared before it, and today we are paying a heavy price for it.

The credibility of the SABC is in tatters. It needs a bailout. Hundreds are out of jobs, managers have been asked to identify staff to retrench, production houses have not been paid, morale has hit rock bottom, and traditional listeners and viewers have found new homes, frustrated with the opportunistic 90% local music policy, implemented without risk analysis.

Lest we forget, Motsoeneng was out of the SABC, but returned at the height of the Polokwane battle because the Zuma faction believed he was being targeted for being a "Zuma man". This despite a KPMG report that found he had lied about his matric qualification to get an executive producer position while still in the Free State.

The ANC said nothing in 2012 when the COO position was advertised for only three days and the job description was tailored to his lack of matric, but broadcast experience.

Throughout his tenure he collapsed boards, pushed out CEOs and booted out those who demanded that the once loved public broadcaster be run professionally.

During the SABC’s ad hoc committee inquiry, questions were asked about "enforcers" of Motsoeneng's editorial policies that were in violation of the Constitution. The question not asked was who was Motsoeneng’s enabler?

Perhaps it again comes down to the ANC washing its hands of yet another major mess that it created, by looking the other way. The SABC was once a formidable and proud institution. I went to work inspired and energised to fulfill the mandate of the public broadcaster, and so many continue to put their heart into doing that, despite the bleak future the broadcaster now faces.

The ANC has plenty for which it should hang its head in shame, but Motsoeneng should be high up there on their list.

- Mahlatse Gallens is politics editor of News24.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    hlaudi ­motsoeneng  |  sabc

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