SABC establishes committee to probe claims of editorial interference against top brass

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A special committee has been convened to investigate allegations against the SABC's Group CEO and board chairperson.
A special committee has been convened to investigate allegations against the SABC's Group CEO and board chairperson.
  • A special committee has been established to investigate allegations against SABC senior managers.
  • The SABC's Group CEO and board chairperson have been accused of editorial interference.
  • The allegations are part of an ongoing feud with SABC News editor-in-chief Phathiswa Magopeni.

The SABC has convened a special committee to investigate allegations of editorial interference against its Group CEO and board chairperson.

SABC News editor-in-chief Phathiswa Magopeni levelled the allegations against SABC board chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini and Group CEO Madoda Mxakwe last year.

Magopeni alleged that Makhathini and Mxakwe had interfered in editorial policy.

According to City Press, Magopeni raised concerns with the board over the harassment and intimation of SABC journalists by senior ANC members during the elections.

She requested the board's intervention but was instead reportedly told to comply with the party's demands. Reportedly, when Magopeni refused, Makhathini and Mxakwe allegedly started sabotaging her.

READ | ANC at the heart of SABC feud

Magopeni also made a submission to the Electoral Commission of South Africa, alleging a breach of the electoral code of conduct by ANC members.

At the time, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula blamed the public broadcaster for the ANC's dismal performance in the elections, saying it never showed the party's good side and only focused on negative service delivery issues in the municipalities it ran.

In December, the board issued a statement, assuring the public that it "took the allegations seriously and that the matter was being processed fairly" according to SABC policy.

Magopeni declined to comment to News24, saying she was not allowed to "say anything official".

"A Special Committee of the Board has been established to deal with the allegations against the Chairperson fairly and expeditiously. The grievance against the GCEO (Group CEO) will be dealt with in terms of SABC employment and disciplinary policies," the board said in a statement.

The special committee will investigate the allegations to determine whether they "constitute a prima facie act of misconduct" and make recommendations to the SABC board on the steps to be taken.

The statement read:

Should misconduct be proved, the Board is bound in terms of the Broadcasting Act to report the matter to the appointing body. In the interests of procedural and substantive fairness and respecting the rights of all the parties involved, the Board will not be doing a running commentary on the grievance process. We trust that the public and interested parties will allow due process to be followed. The SABC Board remains committed to transparency and upholding the rule of law.

In December, Magopeni was issued with a written warning after being found guilty of failing to stop the broadcast of an interdicted Special Assignment episode.

ALSO READ | SABC head of news found guilty of misconduct

She was charged after the episode was erroneously aired. During three days of hearings, Magopeni said the episode was on the video entertainment platform and she could not authorise that it be removed from the system.

In a written verdict on Thursday, 23 December, the head of her disciplinary hearing advocate Nazir Cassim said Magopeni didn't understand her role at the public broadcaster.

The broadcaster has reportedly since asked Magopeni to submit a mitigation argument for the case, despite it being concluded in December.

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