Johannesburg – Pressure continues to mount on the government to fire the entire SABC board for its insistence on retaining its controversial boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng.
On Wednesday, protests were held in Joburg and Cape Town for Motsoeneng and the board to be axed, following the SABC’s decision to reappoint him to his previous position as group executive of corporate affairs. He replaced Bessie Tugwana, who will now take care of special projects in the chief executive’s office.The ANC in Parliament also called on the SABC to immediately fire Motsoeneng.
ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu said the SABC board would face the axe after an inquiry into its fitness to hold office. A fuming Mthembu said despite all the problems of the SABC, the last straw was hiring Motsoeneng in a different senior position, which was against court judgments.“The appointment of the corporation’s former chief operating officer, whose previous appointment was also set aside by the courts, to another senior executive position is without a doubt the last straw that broke the camel’s back,” he said.
However, analysts suggested that the ANC’s stance on the matter bordered on hypocrisy, as they had the powers to remove Motsoeneng and “the delinquent” board that continues to back him.
Constitutional law expert Professor Pierre de Vos told The Star that the ANC could use its majority in Parliament to dissolve the SABC board and effectively fire Motsoeneng.
De Vos said it had become clear that the board was either completely in dereliction of duty or was endorsing unlawfulness by protecting and appointing Motsoeneng to his old job.
De Vos said while the ruling party could not formally interfere in the running of the SABC, it could use its majority in the National Assembly to hold the broadcaster to account or remove it completely.
“If they don’t then that would mean they agree with what’s happening at the SABC,” he said.
Political analyst Prince Mashele was more blunt, saying if the ANC had been a united party and truly did not want Motsoeneng, President Jacob Zuma would instruct Communications Minister Faith Muthambi to tell the SABC board to “stop the madness” by removing Motsoeneng.
He said, however, that this would not be an easy task because the origin of the SABC crisis was “Zuma’s office”.
He said it was clear a faction of the ruling party did not want Motsoeneng to go because “he is the president’s man”.
“Hlaudi’s arrogance and that of the board shows that they enjoy untrammelled protection from the president, fullstop,” said Mashele.
The controversial announcement about Motsoeneng’s new post was despite the Supreme Court of Appeal confirming a Western Cape High Court ruling that his appointment as acting COO was irrational and must be set aside.
This was as a result of the public protector’s findings that he had misrepresented his matric qualification and hiked his salary from R1.5m to R2.4m in a single year.
On Wednesday, protests were held to demand that Motsoeneng and the board be sacked. In Joburg, the Right2Know Campaign marched to the FNB and SABMiller headquarters in Joburg, demanding they stop advertising on the public broadcaster’s platform until good corporate governance was restored.
R2K’s Micah Reddy told The Star that the SABMiller and FNB adspend on the broadcaster amounted to about R400m and R120m a year, respectively.
“Over time we will be targeting other corporations doing business with the SABC, but for now we are focusing on FNB and SAB.”
They wanted Motsoeneng not to serve the public broadcaster in any capacity.
The NGO threatened to call on the masses to boycott the companies’ products if it failed to heed their call on the SABC. The companies would study the memorandum before responding.
SOS Coalition national co-ordinator Sekoetlane Phamodi said they backed the R2K’s calls, adding they were running out of options as the SABC continued to undermine statutory bodies and the courts.
A group of protesters also marched to the Chamber of Commerce in Cape Town. Provincial co-ordinator for the Right2Know campaign, Khaya Xintolo, urged the advertisers to take the issue at hand very seriously.
“Advertisers are in control of the economy and they can stop what is happening at the SABC. Our plea is for them to hear our demands as South Africans.”