R2K to protest SABC “state capture” as controversy flares up over COO’s alleged bonus

BY CHARL BOSCH - AUGUST 23, 2016

The Right2Know Campaign (R2K) is expected to picket outside Parliament and in Pretoria on Tuesday morning against what it claims to be the continuing capture of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) by the state.

This come as the public broadcaster’s top management and Communications Minister, Faith Muthambi, provide feedback to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Communication on recent controversies including the banning of visual amounting violence, the sacking of eight journalists who protested against the ban, and the departure of CEO Jimi Matthews earlier this year.

In a statement, the organisation said the committee has remained mum on “the decay of the SABC” and that is has also neglected its duties in leaving us “with an inquorate board of lapdogs who rubber stamp all of [SABC Chief Operations Officers] Hlaudi [Motsoeneng] and the executive’s reckless decisions”.

“MPs should not be cowing to Muthambi and attempting to push through her Broadcast Amendment Bill, which would wrest from parliament its legislated role in board appointments and be the final nail in the coffin of the public broadcaster’s independence,” the statement read.

“Parliament needs to exercise its oversight and ensure that the Board is reconstituted through and open and democratic participatory process and it needs to proceed in this regard with the utmost urgency. It is high time they take the necessary measures to save the SABC”.

It also stated that it would continue to demand that both Muthambi and Motsoeneng be removed from their positions with immediate effect.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has meanwhile stated that Muthambi should come clean on reports that Acting SABC CEO, James Aguma, had mentioned the paying of a bonus to Motsoeneng for the clinching of a five-year deal with DSTV owned Multichoice three years ago.

Over the weekend, the Sunday Times reported that Aguma had send a letter to the boardcaster’s board requesting Motsoeneng be paid out for “single-handedly” negotiating a deal worth R570-million two years ago, to provide Multichoice with access to its 24-hour news channel on channel 404, and its archive based entertainment channel, Encore on channel 156.

According to an extract of the letter obtained by the paper, Aguma also stated that Motsoeneng assist with the extension of the contract when it expires in July 2018, “as he holds the key to the success of this endeavour”.

“Not only has the SABC been rocked by scandal after scandal with Motsoeneng at the helm, he has overseen the financial mismanagement of the public broadcaster. The SABC is expected to make losses of over a billion for the 2015/16 financial year,” DA Shadow Minister of Communications Phumzile van Damme said in a statement.

“Motsoeneng most certainly does not deserve a bonus. He must be fired. We will pose the question of the bonus and many other issues to the Minister and the SABC board”.

Muthambi’s office has however distanced itself from recent developments at the SABC, saying in a statement the board should take responsibility for resolving the various challenges.

“Failure to observe this key constitutional and policy provision would, in fact, render the ministry as interfering with the duties of the board and management of the public broadcaster. This is something we have not done in the past, and that we do not wish to do in the future,” the statement said.