New Acting SABC CEO questioned as Motsoeneng denies crisis allegations


The Democratic Alliance (DA) has said the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s appointment of its Financial Head, James Aguma, to the position of acting CEO, proves it has no desire to fix the crisis it currently finds itself in.

Speaking at the media briefing on Tuesday, SABC Chairperson Mbulaheni Maguvhe said Aguma, who had been at the broadcaster since January last year, would take over from Jimi Matthews following his surprise resignation on Monday.

In a statement, DA Shadow Minister of Communications Phumzile van Damme said Aguma is a known ally of controversial SABC Chief Operations Officer Hlaudi Motseoeng, and that his provision of financial support to “Motseoeng’s madcap decision” makes him unsuitable to lead the broadcaster.

“The SABC needs a CEO who will lead the organisation without fear and favour and one who respects freedom of expression and the journalistic, creative and programming independence of the SABC. In supporting Hlaudi Motsoeneng, Aguma has shown himself not to be this person,” van Damme said.

“It has become patently clear that the board of the SABC only serves to further the interests of the ANC, Communications Minister Faith Muthambi, and Hlaudi Motsoeneng. As such, we re-iterate that Parliament’s Communications Committee return to Parliament in order to discuss fixing the SABC, including removing the current SABC board”.

Motsoeneng has however dismissed allegations that the broadcaster is in crisis, telling reporters at the same event that employees are satisfied with his leadership and that his door is always open for discussion.

He also denied accusations of censorship, describing it as “an English concept he does not know about”, and that print media had become obsessed with him.

“You people tell us ‘print media should follow you because you have all these resources. We want you to know that print media follows you’. You as print media follow the SABC,” News24 quoted him saying.

The broadcaster come under renewed fire this week following the suspension of three journalists last week, as well as the leaking of a letter addressed to Motsoeneng, in which three other journalists describe their workplace as having become a “source of derision, despair and criticism from the people that we are fundamentally accountable to”.

Accusing the media having its own agenda against the SABC, Motsoeneng also rejected allegations of running the broadcaster in a dictator-like fashion, adding it would continue not to show acts of violent protests on television so as not to give vandals the satisfaction of being filmed while destroying property.