Mpumelelo Mkhabela

Hlaudi Motsoeneng 'not a transformation success story'

2016-10-07 07:51

Mpumelelo Mkhabela

Hlaudi Motsoeneng means many things to many people.

To those who hold influential positions or who aspire to without the required qualifications, he is an exemplary business leader.

His occupation of a leadership position at the SABC affirms this group of people. In him they get self-validation. They believe his mantra that he is a “born intellectual”, “talented”, and so on. For them he has demonstrated beyond doubt that a matric certificate, a diploma or a degree means nothing.

This group of Motsoeneng’s supporters is so disdainful of qualifications it is probably shocked that there are people who are prepared to lose life and limb in the struggle for free higher education across South African university campuses. Whenever he opens his mouth this group gets excited. They hear music.

He is also worshipped by those who depend on political connections to rise through the ranks in state-owned companies. Motsoeneng has shown that political connections can make up for lack of formal qualification. The connections have given him the necessary confidence to stand in public platforms, including funerals, to promote himself shamelessly.

'Not a transformation synonym'

Some of Motsoeneng’s admirers have gone to the extent of marching outside courts and in Parliament to demonstrate support for him when he was being called to account for the governance chaos at SABC. They applaud his defiant posture towards the public protector’s office, the courts and recently Parliament.

In the course of the irrational admiration of Motsoeneng, his disciples have done the unforgivable. They have associated Motsoeneng with transformation. They view him as evidence of a successful transformation project and as someone who has advanced transformation in ways nobody could at SABC. He has convinced them that he is the synonym of transformation.

This kind of propaganda must not go unchallenged. Transformation means changing the socio-economic dynamics of the country for the benefit of black people who were previously disenfranchised.

Transformation should never mean rising through the ranks through political connections. It should never be linked to lack of qualifications by black people who hold senior positions. To do so would be delegitimise the transformation project. It would mean stripping it of its moral essence.

Once delegitimised and denuded of its meaning, transformation will come to a dead end and all that will remain will be the buzzword. Only those opposed to transformation, including racists, will raise their glasses of champagne.

Transformation does not and should never mean circumventing the state’s recruitment processes to rise to the top to earn a good salary at the expenses of the most qualified black people around the country. Nor should it mean turning a state-owned company into graveyard where people’s reputations are buried.

Some of Motsoeneng’s supporters have even suggested in their bizarre defence of the bizarre that if white people could rise to higher positions without matric, surely there should be nothing wrong with Motsoeneng’s rise to the top.

In private conversations some of the supporters point out at companies led by white people without matric. But since when has the advancement of black people been bench-marked on the academic under-achievement of some white South Africans?

Defending the indefensible in the name of transformation is an insult to the project of transformation. Transformation should be anchored on excellence and high standards across the board.  It should be about capacitating those who don’t have the means to be able to compete.

A successful transformation project is a precondition for the attainment of a nonracial economy where all South Africans regardless of race will feel they have a stake in the future of the country. A nonracial society is, after all, a constitutional imperative that is spelt out in the preamble of the Constitution.

The struggle for the democratic constitutional dispensation was never about mediocrity. It wouldn’t make sense for people to die in the struggle for freedom and to have their efforts reciprocated by the kind mediocrity to which we have become accustomed. Sadly, in the name of transformation.

Condemn mediocrity

Wherever it is to be found and regardless of its colour, mediocrity should be condemned. Mediocrity condoned by a white person doesn’t and should not suddenly transform itself into meritocracy.

It was shocking to hear Motsoeneng the other day waxing lyrical about the fact that he was employed by a white person at the SABC who didn’t mind that he didn’t have matric. He said this several times in a recent interview on PowerFM.

It was as if being employed by a white person exonerated him from complying with the qualification requirements set out in the government rules, regulations and laws that govern the operations of the SABC and other state-owned enterprises.

Transformation is a very sensitive issue and its success will mean the advancement of black people at a very large scale in all sectors of society. Failure – which should not be an option – would mean racialised inequalities will continue to define South Africa’s political economy.

Motsoeneng should never be linked to transformation because he does not represent the kind of excellence that should be inherent in it. He represents the opposite of what should be expected of the champions of transformation.

He should be stripped of undeserved transformation accolades.

- Follow Mpumelelo Mkhabela on Twitter.

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Read more on:    sabc  |  hlaudi motsoeneng

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