ICT chief in the dock over ANN7

A screengrab from ANN7's online website.
A screengrab from ANN7's online website.

The Black Business Council (BBC) has threatened to suspend one of its members for allegedly failing to vouch for ANN7 after MultiChoice decided not to renew its contract in January.

A letter of intention to suspend was sent to the organisation’s ICT portfolio committee chairperson, Keith Thabo, this week. He has to furnish reasons he should not be suspended. The letter is signed by acting BBC president Gilbert Mosena.

Thabo is president of the National Association for Manufacturers in Electronic Components. He is accused of bringing the BBC into disrepute at a meeting held earlier last month, at which MultiChoice was supposed to brief it on the termination of its contract with ANN7.

Thabo is accused of having interrupted the briefing and indicating that he was ready to replace ANN7 as a client. In doing so he undermined “the existing legal arrangements and relationship between MultiChoice and one of our member(s)”. This is presumably a reference to ANN7 owner Mzwanele Manyi, who is a BBC member.

Manyi said he was not willing to comment as he was not at that meeting. It was held a day after the announcement of the non-renewal of the ANN7 contract. Also in attendance were BBC chairperson Sello Rasethaba, secretary-general George Sebulela and BBC CEO Kganki Matabane, and MultiChoice executive chairperson Lehlohonolo Letele and the company’s CEO, Calvo Mawela.

According to minutes of the meeting, the decision by MultiChoice’s audit and risk committee to drop ANN7 was because of reputational harm due to the broadcaster’s association with the Guptas – even after Manyi became its owner – a lack of technical and editorial quality, repeated compliance breaches, low audience ratings and investor pressure arising from the reputational issue.

The minutes indicate that Sebulela sought clarity on why Manyi was informed of the decision 30 minutes before MultiChoice held a press conference on January 31 to announce its decision. Rasethaba said the press statement issued on the matter was vague and he advised that a redrafted one be released.

In the meeting Thabo reiterated that black entities be sought who could replace ANN7 and that a number of stakeholders had already approached him with the idea of forming a consortium to bid for the slot.

Thabo denied the allegation contained in the letter and said his sin was failing to vouch for ANN7 and questioning Mosena’s legitimacy.

“Gilbert Mosena is not an acting president of the BBC as there was no council that nominated him. Sello Rasethaba and George Sebulela put him there. There is no sitting or minutes of the council endorsing his alleged acting presidency,” Thabo said.

Sebulela declined to elaborate on the contents of the letter.

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