The Hlaudi of our lives

2016-10-02 06:03
Mondli Makhanya

Mondli Makhanya

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When the SABC’s head of whatever he is head of this week decided to move the popular, long-running soapie Days of Our Lives to a late-night slot on SABC3, few knew that he wanted to ensure his own dominance of the soap opera genre.

He may have used the argument that he was ratcheting up local content, but the truth is that he was tired of being overshadowed by the Horton and Brady families.

Since then, Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s ongoing soap opera has taken over, with scenes being shot at funerals and in boardrooms.

And as each episode becomes more gripping than the last, it has dominated South African conversation.

But it seems as if the Days of Hlaudi’s Life may be nearing its grand finale as the end, brought about by the main character’s arrogance and sense of impunity, looms.

Looking at pictures of a nattily dressed Motsoeneng in newspaper pages this week, it was obvious that the newly appointed SABC group executive for corporate affairs was mocking South Africa, telling us all that he was untouchable.

Donning a fashionable jacket and fedora, he walked into a presser on Tuesday showing not a care in the world.

On the previous Friday, he had blatantly disrespected the memory of kwaito star Mandoza by using the late musician’s funeral as a self-promotion exercise.

He even cocked a snook at the Supreme Court of Appeal, which had declared his appointment as the SABC’s chief operating officer irrational and set it aside.

The almost universal condemnation of his actions seemed to have had no effect on him.

On Sunday, this newspaper revealed that he had scored an R11.4m bonus – the first tranche of a R33m payout for sealing a deal with MultiChoice.

The national outrage that ensued over the secret payday was like water off a duck’s back for Motsoeneng.

Instead of acknowledging the disapproval, he heaped praise on himself and bragged about how much he was loved.

“I want to applaud the people who recognise this wonderful person called Hlaudi ... Everywhere I go, everyone supports Hlaudi; it is worse in the rural areas.

"I am here in Gauteng to change the mind-set of people who believe that if you come from rural areas, you can’t achieve,” the hillbilly boasted.

He cheekily told South Africans: “You are going to know about this position: corporate affairs.”

This was a message signalling his intent to use his new executive post to hog the limelight by remaining the superpower at the SABC and doing his utmost to turn the public broadcaster into a mirror image of his bumbling self.

On Thursday, ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu voiced his indignation after the SABC board ignored the court’s decision, calling it “without a doubt the last straw that breaks the camel’s back”.

He added that Parliament would look into the fitness of a board that kept giving Motsoeneng free rein.

The SABC man hit back in the rudest way, saying he did not take Mthembu seriously because “he was drunk when he attacked me”.

“He must sort out his alcohol problems before he speaks about important people like me ... Losers and jealous people have nothing to say other than attack my academic qualifications. I am running SABC better than many educated people would. SABC is where it is today because of my hard work,” he said.

No one is finding his shenanigans funny any more. Even Cabinet, which is headed by his arch-protector and on which his godmother sits, seems to have had enough.

In the harshest criticism of Motsoeneng and the SABC leadership yet, Cabinet slammed what it called “attempts to subvert the Supreme Court of Appeal ruling through legally suspect interpretations”.

It said this bordered on a violation of the Constitution and was a challenge to the authority of the country’s courts.

Speaking on behalf of Cabinet, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said: “The decision to reappoint Mr Motsoeneng in a new position shows disrespect of the rule of law.”

It remains to be seen whether this is indeed the final straw.

If it is, it will bring to an end a period of shame for South Africa’s 56 million citizens and the Zimbabweans, Somalis, Pakistanis and Guatemalans who reside in our republic.

It has been a period of shame because we allowed a feeble-minded man to run rings around us.

We handed over the custodianship of one of our most precious assets to a circus clown who proceeded make fun of us when we tried to claim the asset back from him.

He has ousted many highly competent individuals, while those who survived did so by acceding to his whims or staying out of his line of vision.

The SABC has survived Motsoeneng’s spirited attempts to sink it because most of its staff believe in its mission and because South Africans are invested in its health.

Up until now, this belief has not been shared by Motsoeneng’s political principals, who have – by commission or omission – colluded with his destructive behaviour.

This week’s tough stance brings hope that the Hlaudi show-and-tell is heading for a welcome closing scene.

Read more on:    anc  |  sabc  |  hlaudi motsoeneng

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