New SABC CEO’s lukewarm reception

BY CHARL BOSCH - JULY 2, 2015

Former banking executive and South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) consultant, Frans Matlala, was officially appointed as the troubled public broadcaster’s new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) yesterday afternoon.

His selection comes after former CEO, Lulama Mokhobo, abruptly handed in his resignation in February last year, less than 12 months after signing a reported five year deal. The broadcaster has since been facing allegations of being turned into a state-run entity and maladministration following the appointment of Hlaudi Motsoeneng as Chief Operating Officer (COO).

“I appreciate that this honour and privilege is also a daunting challenge. I think there’s an opportunity globally to communicate a narrative about Africa and a very different narrative from the narrative that has been there before,” Mokhobo, flanked by the Motsoeneng, was quoted as saying.

Speaking in a statement, Democratic Alliance (DA) Shadow Minister for Communications, Gavin Davis, said that while the party welcomes Mokhobo’s appointment, it remains to be seen whether he is be able to ”to put Motsoeneng in his place”.

“Mr Matlala appears to be highly qualified with extensive private sector experience. He now has an opportunity to learn from the experiences of his predecessor, Lulama Mokhobo. The Public Protector found that Ms. Mokhobo’s position was made untenable by Motsoeneng’s campaign to bully and undermine her,” Davis said.

“Yesterday, Mr Matlala told the media that creating cults around managers does not yield good results. This can only be interpreted as a thinly veiled criticism of the personality cult that Motsoeneng has created around himself”.

Referring to a previous statement which revealed that members of the SABC choir had been signing praise songs about Motsoeneng, Davis stated that Matlala’s quick establishing of himself as the broadcaster’s new top administrator, could yield a turning point in its fortunes.

“With only six members, the Board is three short of the quorum it requires to make legally binding decisions such as the appointment of a new CEO. In the meantime, we wish Mr Matlala the best of luck for the challenges that await him”.

Congress of the People (Cope) Spokesperson Dennis Bloem, has however stated that Matlala’s appointment proves that the ruling African National Congress (ANC) has its sights set on “ignoring and isolating qualified‚ capable and credible citizens from such positions”.

“Like the National Party‚ which the ruling party ingested‚ the African National Congress is taking the SABC back to becoming a mouthpiece for the ruling party,” Bloem said, adding that Matlala’s well-known “unhealthy relationship” with Motsoeneng will cause the broadcaster further troubles.

“The SABC will come running to the government for a bail out and the minister of finance will deplete state assets further by selling some more non-core assets until nothing is left to sell,” he said.