SABC: Aguma suspended

Hlaudi Motsoeneng, left, shares a moment with James Aguma at a media briefing when they were both still in power at the SABC.Picture: Felix Dlangamandla
Hlaudi Motsoeneng, left, shares a moment with James Aguma at a media briefing when they were both still in power at the SABC.Picture: Felix Dlangamandla

SABC boss James Aguma faces suspension for lying to the public broadcaster’s interim board about his ally Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s disciplinary hearing for misconduct over a fiery media conference held last month.

Aguma, who has reportedly been on sick leave for two weeks, now faces a disciplinary process of his own.

Three impeccable sources – who do not wish to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter – have independently confirmed that Aguma, the SABC’s chief financial officer and acting chief executive, will not be able to gain access to the SABC building in Auckland Park when he returns to work because his access card has been blocked. A letter of suspension also awaits him should he not have received one at home.

A third source told City Press that both Aguma and Motsoeneng’s offices in Radio Park have been locked.

According to sources close to the board Aguma has “repeatedly misled the board and been less than honest with them”.

Specifically, his suspension relates to the media conference held last month at a hotel near the SABC where Motsoeneng angrily challenged the board over their dismissal of his costly 90% local content policy. He implied that some members of the board were “captured” and opposed to transformation, directly calling board member Krish Naidoo a “liar” with “a political agenda”. Motsoeneng, who also faces a disciplinary action over the Public Protector’s damning report on SABC, was charged with misconduct.

Aguma, say the sources, provided an affidavit in Motsoeneng’s misconduct case that said that the board did not, in fact, take a resolution to discipline Motsoeneng – yet he was in a board meeting when the decision was taken and in fact he supported the decision.

The second reason is that he said he gave Motsoeneng permission to hold the press conference – but denied it when asked by the board and Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Communications.

Asked for comment, SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said: “We are not at liberty to discuss employer-employee issues.”

On May 17 Aguma failed to appear before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), attracting harsh criticism from Parliament. It was there that the questionable affidavit was raised by the board.

Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo told Scopa that current governance at the public broadcaster couldn’t continue and that the process to appoint a permanent chief executive and chief financial officer was already under way.

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