11 December 2018

South Africa: 'I Have Been Doing Wonderfully for SABC' - Hlaudi Motsoeneng

Photo: SABC
Hlaudi Motsoeneng (file photo).

Axed SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng has said that he has done "wonderful" work at the broadcaster and that he is not to blame for its woes.

In an interview with SABC Morning Live on Tuesday, Motsoeneng said: "I want to put issues clear here: They've been saying Hlaudi caused these problems. The reality is there are two issues here: governance and fruitless expenditure.

"All these people who are blaming Hlaudi [such as] the SIU (Special Investigating Unit), there is no evidence that I have appointed people irregular. There is nothing, none. The SIU and SABC... have been grandstanding."

Speaking to Sakina Kamwendo, Motsoeneng denied purging employees such as Phumelele Ntombela-Nzimande and Charlotte Mampane.

"Where do I get in? Because I was not even the COO at that time."

He also denied being involved in approving raises for executives, including himself, and making high-level appointments.

"HR (human resources) are the custodian of salary increment, including appointments. I have never appointed one."

Referring to the Public Protector's report into irregularities at the SABC, Kamwendo said the report found that the SABC had lost millions because Motsoeneng had purged people.

"So, you pushed people out during your tenure at the SABC and the SABC had to foot the bill for those actions," Kamwendo stated.

"Who are those people? I have never been to the office of the Public Protector. I have never talked to the Public Protector. People are mobilising to lie about Hlaudi."

Kamwendo asked Motsoeneng why he didn't take the report on review.

"No, look, the advice from my lawyers, don't take the report [on review], it has nothing to do with you. The court said those remedial action are not binding on Hlaudi."

'It is malicious'

Motsoeneng said the allegations against him were meant to be proven at a disciplinary hearing because it was "an SABC matter" because "[the Public Protector] did not do the whole work to finalise whatever".

Pointing out that the findings of the Public Protector stood, Kamwendo stated: "When she says that Hlaudi Motsoeneng has cost this organisation millions of rands because he purged people, you don't think that speaks to you? "

"It is malicious" Motsoeneng responded, making a dismissive gesture.

"But you didn't take it on review. You didn't challenge it?"

"No, no, no, no, no, Sakina, we are talking about the facts. Leave what the Public Protector says."

"Are you saying those are not factual?" Kamwendo asked.

"No, they are not," Motsoeneng responded.

"You can't say that. If you felt so strongly, Mr Motsoeneng, you need to take the report on review, otherwise it stands. Your word is not going to trump that of the Public Protector."

"Sakina, don't push what you want to push. Just take the facts. Leave your perception and your views about the Public Protector."

Motsoeneng then repeated that the allegations against him were internal matters meant to be dealt with at his disciplinary hearing.

'You are not entitled you your own facts'

Kamwendo then said: "You are entitled to your own views, but you are not entitled to your own facts. The Public Protector's report is very clear on what she believes you did wrong, until and unless you take that report on review."

Moving on to irregular expenditure, Kamwendo asked Motsoeneng to respond to his role in salary increases, especially his own.

"Salary increment has nothing to do with Hlaudi," he responded. He instead pointed out that the SABC was "billions" strong during his tenure and that the current board was "running away" because "they don't know how to deal with the issues at the SABC".

"When I have been here, you talk about billions in the bank, the cash. When you talk about them, you talk about R130m.

"The reason why they can't pay the workers now is because they don't know how to run the business."

Motsoeneng insisted he left the SABC with "lots of money".

Speaking on the broadcaster's losses, Motsoeneng said he didn't consider huge expenses, such as R100m spent on the funeral of former president Nelson Mandela, as a "loss".

"Has the SABC ever registered a loss in its financials during your tenure?"

"I don't regard any loss when you invest that money in the public interest," Motsoeneng replied.

Asked why he had decided to pay money to musicians, Motsoeneng said: "That is not an SABC money. That is the money that I went all out and raised that money. For the artist. You see, that is why I'm saying the SIU and the SABS, they are dealing with issues that they don't know.

'I have done wonderfully'

"I have been doing wonderfully for SABC. I raised money for the musicians - it was not SABC money. "

Asked whether the money was raised under the auspices of the SABC, Motsoeneng said it didn't matter.

"I raised the money personally, it was not part of my job."

He however, admitted that the money raised was paid to the SABC and used to pay musicians, but insisted it was nothing irregular.

"You should be very happy," Motsoeneng told Kamwendo. "I have done wonderful for South Africans."

Motsoeneng denied that his decision to play 90% local music was "disastrous".

"You say disaster because people don't know how to run the SABC. There is nothing disaster, my dear."

Source: News24

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