27 February 2013

South Africa: SABC Board Must Answer to Parliament On Motsoeneng's Removal

press release

The SABC Board must, as a matter of urgency, appear before an emergency session of Parliament's Portfolio Committee of Communications to explain its hasty removal of Acting Chief Operating Officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng yesterday.

I have written to the committee's chairperson, Sikhumbuzo Kholwane, asking him to convene a meeting to discuss a way forward for the SABC out of its current crisis.

While the Democratic Alliance welcomes Mr Motsoeneng's removal from a post he was unqualified to hold and which he abused to control editorial and advertising content to suit his ANC friends, the circumstances of his removal give rise to grave concern about the credibility of the board and its leadership.

South Africa needs to hear why the chair of the board, Dr Ben Ngubane, apparently declined to attend the unscheduled board meeting that was called in Cape Town yesterday after a decision was made to cancel the board's meeting with the portfolio committee.

It seems that some members of the board were unhappy with the contents of the report Mr Motsoeneng had compiled detailing the status of the Special Investigating Unit's progress on investigations and charges against former and current SABC board members and former and current employees.

I understand that both Dr Ngubane and Mr Motsoeneng were shocked by the board's decision to remove the latter, and that Dr Ngubane asked that Mr Motsoeneng first be moved to another post within the SABC. This would enable him to save face by giving him an opportunity to tender his resignation and negotiate an exit package . Mr Motsoeneng was given the post of group executive: provinces; the same position he held before being appointed acting COO.

The SABC has been rocked by crises of mismanagement, corruption and an unstable board for close on 15 years. Radical action is needed to put in place a credible, appropriately skilled, experienced and politically neutral leadership to manage the broadcaster's turnaround strategy.

These are the issues that I will request the communications portfolio committee chairperson to put on the agenda of an emergency meeting.

Marian Shinn, Shadow Minister of Communications

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