10 Shocking Revelations From Parliament’s SABC Inqiury

Hlaudi Motsoeneng SABC

Parties who testified in front of the committee made explosive claims about the inner workings of the SABC.

Here are 10 shocking claims the inquiry has unearthed so far:

1. SABC funds were used to help build the Gupta empire

Former SABC contributing editor Vuyo Mvoko testified that the struggling SABC had channelled money towards the Gupta-owned news TV station ANN7, in effect using its own resources to strengthen its rival.

2. Death threats continue for “SABC 8” journalists

It emerged this week that Mvoko had received a threatening SMS after delivering his testimony at the inquiry. The message was said to have read: “Traitors. Protecting your white friends in parliament who started this‚ telling lies about your comrades. You are warned. We don’t kill blacks‚ but sit and watch the blood flow.”

The Sunday Times reported in November that some members of the so-called “SABC 8” – a group of journalists dismissed from the public broadcaster – were shot at and received death threats.

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3. Communications Minister Faith Muthambi would crash late-night SABC board meetings

The committee last week heard how Muthambi interfered with the SABC board and the appointment of Hlaudi Motsoeneng as chief operations officer (COO). It also heard how the minister would show up at late-night SABC board meetings unannounced.

4. Muthambi claimed to have inherited the problems at the SABC

Testifying at the inquiry, the minister was asked about media censorship and editorial policies at the broadcaster, as well as a controversial deal with MultiChoice. However, she shifted the blame, saying the SABC had struggled with a number of issues long before she took office.

5. Motsoeneng threatened to “go to Pretoria” if he was not given a raise

The SABC’s former acting group chief executive, Phil Molefe, testified that Motsoeneng threatened to “go to Pretoria” – an apparent reference to President Jacob Zuma – when he was refused a R500,000 increase.

6. Motsoeneng was willing to purge the newsroom if journalists did not agree with him

SABC current affairs executive producer Krivani Pillay said Motsoeneng told her and others: “If people do not adhere, get rid of them. We cannot have people who question management.” Motsoeneng also apparently referred to “a new SABC” in his discussions with her.

7. Motsoeneng still ruled the SABC after a court ruling against his appointment as COO

The inquiry this week heard that former SABC chief executive Lulama Mokhobo was “persona non grata” at the broadcaster and was so stressed about being undermined by Motsoeneng that she appeared as if she “would drop dead at any minute”.

8. Motsoeneng built an army of loyal followers

Mokhobo also said some members of the SABC board would “surround Mr Motsoeneng very tightly” and any outsiders to the group would be alienated. This group apparently had great power at the broadcaster.

9. The SABC’s last remaining board member is still a firm fan of Motsoeneng

SABC board chairperson Mbulaheni Maguvhe painted a glowing picture of Motsoeneng during the inquiry. “I think he does get things right and I believe anyone, even if you are good at something, you might as well have challenges,” he told the inquiry about Motsoeneng’s appointment as COO in 2014.

10. Loyalty is the SABC’s biggest problem

Maguvhe told the inquiry he believed a lack of loyalty from employees was at the root of problems at the SABC. “I don’t think that most of the people who are there are loyal to the SABC itself. To give an example, you would discuss things and one minute later you get calls to verify a leak,” he claimed.

The parliamentary ad hoc committee will meet again early next year, after which it will draft a report and present its findings to Parliament on February 15.

 

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