All the drama! A guide to the unfolding saga at the SABC

By Almari Wessels
13 December 2016

Here are some of the shocking revelations that have come to light during the ongoing inquiry over the sorry state of affairs at the public broadcaster.

Will Hlaudi Motsoeneng finally be removed from the SABC? Well, pending the parliamentary inquiry into the affairs of the public broadcaster, the group executive of corporate affairs was dealt a huge blow when the Western Cape High Court on Monday ruled that the appointment of the controversial former COO into his current position was unlawful.  

More than two-and-a-half years after Adv Thuli Madonsela, the former public protector, found that he should be removed from his position for lying about his matric certificate and irregularly raising the salaries of others as well as his own, no remedial action against him has been instated and he was permanently appointed in a new high-level position at the public broadcaster.

But it seems that the jig may be up for the outspoken Motsoeneng. Judges Owen Rogers and André le Roux concurred that Motsoeneng “should not be entitled to hold any position in the SABC unless and until the Public Protector’s report is set aside or the new disciplinary committee finds in his favour.”

According to reports Motsoeneng’s lawyer advised him not to show up for work at the SABC building in Auckland Park on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the parliamentary inquiry into the state of matters at the SABC has opened a giant can of worms. Not only have the committee members, under the stewardship of Vincent Smith from the ANC, heard about the atmosphere of fear and loathing that journalists have to operate in, staff members have revealed that taxpayers’ funds – meant for the SABC – were inappropriately funnelled to ANN7, the news channel owned by the Guptas, the controversial family who has close ties with president Jacob Zuma.

As the inquiry is still ongoing in Cape Town, these disclosures left the parliamentary committee reeling with shock over the sorry state of affairs at the public broadcaster:

  • Lukhanyo Calata, a parliamentary reporter at the SABC, testified that Jimi Matthews, the former SABC boss, instructed him to not include criticism of the president at the airing of the State of the Nation address in 2015;
  • Nazeem Howa, formerly CEO of the Gupta owned Oakbay Investments, wanted to take over the SABC’s news department. The SABC was to foot the bill for personnel, skills and equipment and the Gupta’s The New Age (TNA) would receive all advertising revenue, Sipho Masinga, former IT executive at the public broadcaster revealed;
  • Journalists said that they were told to stand up when Motsoeneng entered the newsroom and that their colleagues were suspended and vilified for telling the truth and standing up to controversial editorial policies;
  • Journalists who didn’t “toe the line” were told they could choose to exit through “the door or the window”. It reminded journalists of the cycle of misinformation that the old apartheid regime used to oppress the masses during the struggle years;
  • The controversial TNA breakfasts that aired on the SABC’s Morning live, were fully funded by the SABC, but all the revenue went to the Gupta’s company, Vuyo Mvoko a contributing editor at the SABC claimed;
  • Mvoko believes that the SABC had essentially created a rival station, ANN7, with public money intended for the public broadcaster;
  • Mvoko’s worry about the goings on at the SABC turned into outright fear when he heard staffers proclaiming that they would “lay down their lives for Hlaudi”.


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