Mixed reaction to SABC CEO appointment

Johannesburg - There was mixed reaction to the announcement that Frans Matlala had been appointed SABC chief executive officer.

The Democratic Alliance "tentatively" welcomed the appointment, which came a year after Communications Minister Faith Muthambi said she would appoint a new CEO in three months.

"We hope it is a case of better late than never," DA MP Gavin Davis said in a statement on Thursday.

"There is certainly cause for cautious optimism with this appointment."

According to Fin24, Matlala, a consultant to the SABC for project management and strategic advisory services, has been a keen supporter of the broadcaster's controversial chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

Matlala has held a number of senior executive positions at Standard Bank, African Life SA, First National Bank and South African Breweries, and lists a graduate diploma in engineering, a B.Sc in chemistry and a M.Sc degree.

The appointment of Matlala comes almost a year and a half since Lulama Mokhobo quit in February 2014 without any explanation after just 14 months into her five year contract.

Davis said the DA was happy the new CEO was not Motsoeneng but it also hoped that Matlala will be able to stand up to the COO.

Matlala had to learn from his predecessor's experiences.

"The Public Protector found that Ms Mokhobo’s position was made untenable by Motsoeneng’s campaign to bully and undermine her," Davis said.

"The key to Mr Matlala’s success in this new role is for him to quickly stamp his authority as the top administrator at the SABC."

The Congress of the People said Matlala's appointment was just window dressing.

"The appointment... reinforces the mutual admiration society at the SABC," Cope spokesperson Dennis Bloem said in a statement.

"Hlaudi Motsoeneng will effectively control the financial affairs and dig the SABC into an even deeper hole."

Cope said it was well known that Matlala and Motsoeneng had a "close and unhealthy" relationship.

Bloem also complained about the lack of transparency in making the appointment.

Davis said the DA had questions about the appointment process.

There were only six SABC board members. The board was three short of a quorum it required to make a legal decision.

The DA was looking into the process.

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