SACP takes aim at Hlaudi Motsoeneng, MultiChoice

Hlaudi Motsoeneng (Picture: City Press)
Hlaudi Motsoeneng (Picture: City Press)

Johannesburg - Decay of governance at the SABC has been “exposed again” amid a ruling that the broadcaster’s appointment of Hlaudi Motsoeneng was unlawful, says the SACP.

The SACP has thrown its weight behind a Western Cape High Court judgment on Monday that declared the appointment of Motsoeneng as group executive of corporate affairs unlawful and irrational.

“The governance decay that has been destroying the SABC with unqualified support from uncritical lackeys and patronage networks has been exposed again,” said the SACP in statement.

“While respecting the right to appeal, the SACP is calling on the SABC to abide by the law and to refrain from wasting public resources,” said the SACP.

The SABC appointed Motsoeneng to GE of corporate affairs after he was removed from his previous post as group chief operations officer.

For years, Motsoeneng has been in and out of court fighting findings by former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela that he dramatically increased his own salary, purged senior staff and lied about having a matric.

Madonsela, in 2014, recommended that a new chief operating officer be appointed within 90 days, but court battles have delayed the matter.

However, Monday’s court judgment is viewed as a blow to Motsoeneng and reports on Tuesday indicated that he has, thus far, stayed away from work as per the ruling.

The ruling has further come amid this week’s parliamentary inquiry into controversies at the SABC, which has revealed alleged meddling by Motsoeneng in editorial and mismanagement.

“The SACP is also calling on Parliament to extend its current inquiry into the fitness to hold office of the board that is no more to cover the structural factors and driving forces responsible for the decay and collapse of governance at the SABC,” said the SACP.

“Private interests, such as MultiChoice, that have been pursuing wealth accumulation from the decay and collapse of governance at the SABC must also be held accountable. This includes an investigation into the Guptas’ TNA [The New Age] Business Breakfast and its funding,” the SACP added.

Criticism of MultiChoice deal

The SACP further hit out at pay TV provider MultiChoice regarding a deal that was finalised with the SABC in 2014.

READ: How Hlaudi sold the SABC

The deal stipulated that MultiChoice pay the SABC R553m, over five years, for two new channels on DStv.

“Whilst in that illegal capacity, Motsoeneng signed a contract conveying strategic control, to Naspers’ MultiChoice, of public broadcasting affairs and assets such as archives, related programming and naming rights affecting among others the SABC’s 24-hour news channel, the entertainment channel SABC Encore and consequently free to air channels SABC 1, SABC 2 and SABC 3,” said the SACP in its statement on Monday.

Allegations have swirled that the deal may have even swayed the SABC and government on its digital television set-top box stance.

The department of communications, under former Minister Yunus Carrim, was calling for encryption of set-top boxes. This would have opened the door for free-to-air broadcasters to also sell subscription TV services.

But the new Communications Minister, Faith Muthambi, has been viewed as siding with MultiChoice after she altered policy in 2015 to ensure that subsidised set-top boxes for 5 million poorer households would not be encrypted.

“The collusive deal effectively cemented MultiChoice’s monopoly domination in terms of set-top-box control and pay TV market,” the SACP alleged in its statement.

The SACP further said that poorer South Africans can’t access local premier league football matches during the week because of MultiChoice for charging “sky-high” prices for set-top boxes and subscriptions.

But MultiChoice in a response to the SACP’s comments denied that it is controlling SABC content.

“As we’ve stated on many occasions, the SABC agreement is a standard supply contract similar to the ones we have with other channel suppliers locally and internationally,” MultiChoice general manager for corporate affairs, Jackie Rakitla, told Fin24.

“MultiChoice does not have control of the SABC content. The SABC has full control and ownership of its content,” Rakitla said.

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