Terror of the SABC Finally Blackballed
Crisis at the SABC
Following the live broadcasting of the Parliamentary ad hoc committee's inquiry into the crisis at the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), and also the broadcasting of the DA versus Hlaudi “Cloudy” Motsoeneng case in the Western Cape High Court, was surely the most fascinating but also upsetting experience since December 7th.
This misconduct in the SABC reflects the misconduct in all of SA’s parastatals, but this is beside the point. Fact is the SABC with its three television channels and eighteen radio stations is at present the proverbial open can that contains ugly, stinking worms. (And this is not the first, and surely not the last, actus reus at the SABC.)
What the outcome of the parliamentary ad hoc committee’s inquiry will be is still to be seen, as their work is not yet finished. So far it is clear as daylight that Hlaudi Motsoeneng and Minister Faith Muthambi - both of them serving President Zuma instead of the people of SA - are not the only reasons of the crisis at the SABC. Parliament has delayed filling vacant posts on the SABC board, leaving the board weak and inquorate.
But, hallelujah, after almost three years’ legal efforts to remove the terror, Hlaudi (Cloudy) Motsoeneng, from the SABC, we can at last know that the major cause of the current crisis is out and gone. On Monday, the Western Cape High Court finally ruled that Motsoeneng may not occupy any post at the SABC.
After an almost five-year reign-of-terror, Motsoeneng may not set foot at the SABC, unless the ruling of the public protector – that he may not occupy an executive position at the SABC - is set aside by the Supreme court. (Of course, no court will be able to set it aside. All the findings about maladministration, systemic corporate governance deficiencies, abuse of power and the irregular appointment of Mr Hlaudi Motsoeneng, cannot be challenged, as it was and still is the truth. However, Motsoeneng has the right to give it a try, and if he succeeds, he may ask to be reinstated as Chief Operational Officer at the SABC.
According to the Public Protector -
- The allegation that the appointment of Mr Motsoeneng as the Acting COO was irregular is substantiated.
- The allegation that Mr. Motsoeneng’s salary progression was irregular is also substantiated.
- The allegation that Mr Motsoeneng committed fraud by stating in his application form that he had completed matric from Metsimantsho High School is substantiated.
- The allegation that Mr Motsoeneng was appointed to several posts at the SABC despite having no qualifications as required for such posts, including a matric certificate, is substantiated and this constitutes improper conduct and maladministration.
- The allegations of maladministration, including financial mismanagement, at the level of the SABC management are also substantiated.
- The allegation that Mr Motsoeneng irregularly increased the salaries of various staff members is substantiated.
Focus on Motsoeneng’s “pathological” management style
In her report When Governance and Ethics Fail, released in February 2014, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found all allegations against Hlaudi (Cloudy) Motsoeneng substantiated. She characterized his management style as “pathological”.
Let’s focus on some of Motsoeneng's recent misconducts -
Aside from his superficial decision – and successful bullying of fellow-decision makers into agreeing with him - that all radio stations must implement 90% local music, and his many attempts to prevent journalists from portraying the ANC, President Zuma, and South Africa in a poor light, Motsoeneng's decision in May 2016 to ban footage of protesters burning public property seems to have taken the cake.
It all started in May 2016. Triggered by the decision of the ANC to replace Tswane’s popular mayor with a less popular mayoral candidate for the August 3 local government elections, angry citizens torched buses and cars, looted shops, attacked seven journalists, and killed several fans of the new mayoral candidate during only one week. This inspired “Father” Motsoeneng to lay down a new policy at the SABC, which bans showing footage of protesters burning public property.
That this policy is in violation of Chapter Two of the Constitution of South Africa (the Bill of Rights), and also in violation of the Broadcaster Act, is beyond Motsoeneng’s comprehension. He simply cannot understand that he violates the right of all South Africans to be informed. The fact that millions of people rely completely on the SABC for information (and entertainment), as they can’t afford MultiChoice’s Digital Satellite Television (which offers hundreds of private channels, including a couple of 24/7 news programs) doesn’t bother him at all.
”Visuals of violent protests would lead to more violence, given the nature of people; they “act up” when they see the cameras…” Cloudy Motsoeneng asserted during an interview with eNCA. When challenged, he yelled at journalist/author Glenda Daniels and media lawyer, Dario Milo: “I don’t know what kind of parent you are! … Everything to you is politics… you only know theories…”
Apparently the kings of the Vhavenda and the Amazulu commended the SABC... or shall we rather say the Motsoeneng Broadcasting Corporation's decision to ban footage of violent protest (which normally occurs in the metropolitan areas), as the people in the rural areas haphazardly follow suit.
SA’s broadcasting regulator, Icasa (Independent Communications Authority of South Africa), requested reasons for the new policy. Motsoeneng argued that the SABC is censoring content to “protect SA’s economic outlook, maintain political stability and to keep SA’s international image polished to protect investor confidence.”
In other words, according to Motsoeneng the SABC is supposed to mislead the people of South Africa as well as foreign investors?
Fact is, South Africa is a democracy. People have the right to know the truth and nothing but the truth. What they do with it, and how they react to it, is their business. Law-enforcement is in place, tasked to control demonstrations of protests, and there are laws in place, which are supposed to deal with those who damage public property during legal protests.
The SABC has a mandate to inform and entertain the people of South Africa. And this is what the SABC should do.
Let's hope the next COO understands how the cookie crumbles.
Motsoeneng's “pathological” management style led to the suspension of eight journalists
Eight journalists were suspended when they opposed the ban on violent footage. Following lengthy Labor Court battles, they were reinstated. Since they announced that they had filed papers at the Constitutional Court asking for an inquiry into the issues plaguing the broadcaster, they are being intimidated with death threats. Various frightful attempts to prevent them from reaching their goal still justify police protection.
On Monday they painted a bleak picture as they gave their testimonies before Parliament's ad hoc Committee.
The death threat that was sent to former contributing editor, Vuyo Mvoko after he testified on behalf of the SABC8 on Monday:
“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.”
Motsoeneng's “pathological” management style led to the resignation of senior employees -
Acting Chief Executive (CEO) and Head of News, Jimi Matthews, resigned at the end of June 2016.
“The prevailing, corrosive atmosphere has impacted negatively on my moral judgment,” he explained.
Others complained anonymously, or not at all, fearing retaliatory action against them.
“People are operating in a climate of fear,” said one of those who insisted on anonymity.
“…. the SABC newsroom has itself become a psychological war zone. A minefield of uncertainty. Of threats. Of buried expectations and “directives” that will blow your head off if you disobey them – even if you did not know they were there. Even if you could not believe it, they were there. Because, at the SABC, nothing is on paper….” wrote a senior editorial staffer.
Motsoeneng's “pathological” management style led to the resignation of members of the SABC board -
One after another non-executive members of the SABC board have resigned due to Motsoeneng’s reign of terror. Only the partially blind chairman, Professor Mbulaheni Maguve, remained to testify before the parliamentary committee on Thursday after the professor's illogical and unsuccessful efforts (on behalf of an inquorate board) to prevent the parliamentary committee from demanding relevant documentation.
During the inquiry it became clear that the professor had no clue as to what’s going on at the SABC. He was apparently appointed to act like a mushroom, unable to oppose the shenanigans in the SABC. (NB: Mushrooms are kept in the dark and fed with sh#t.)
If you have another minute or two, read the track record of Hlaudi (Cloudy) Motsoeneng, or simply skip it and read the opinion of this owfma-sa
The most controversial employee of the SABC, Hlaudi (Cloudy) Motsoeneng, was born in 1968 in Eastern Free State, South Africa. He is a member of the Sotho ethnic group. He attended Metsimatshu High School, where he allegedly struggled academically and quit before passing matric (Gr.12).
According to a source who was interviewed by Makhudu Sefara (former editor of City Press), Motsoeneng was spotted at a talent show and recruited to work for the SABC as a Chappies Little League sports announcer on a freelance basis in the early 1990’s. Not very sophisticated, Cloudy did not lack initiative. He volunteered to write news stories from QwaQwa and surrounding areas as they did not have reporters in that area.”
In 1995 he applied for a full-time reporter’s post at Lesedi FM radio station in Bloemfontein. This is when he lied for the first time about being in possession of a matric certificate – that most precious qualification that unlocks the first door to a career worth mentioning. Being a victim of Apartheid, he could have easily, sponsored by the SABC, obtained this certificate. Sadly, he decided to change his status from ambitious opportunist to a sham conning his way to the summit of success.
As a reporter at Lesedi FM, he met and befriended politicians, including Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, who paved his path to the VIP's in parliament. In 1999 he was praised by the ANC: "... a journalist who had put QwaQwa on the map.."
But slandered by his colleagues ".... he is abusive of power and only tolerated because he is the only employee who can get Jacob Zuma on radio at short notice, and almost without effort..."
In 2006, at the age of thirty-eight, he was firmly in the position of Executive Producer when Deloitte & Touche - one of the "Big Four" accounting firms and the largest professional services network in the world, ‘certified’ him as a “semi-literate journalist, inexperienced and not able to communicate in English.”
In the same year he was charged by the SABC with racism, dishonesty, disruption of relations, intimidation and contravention of the SABC rules, and dismissed.
In April 2008, after the then CEO was pressured by the Zuma faction of the ANC, he was reinstated and later promoted to Group Executive of Corporate Affairs.
In 2012 he was appointed into the position of acting COO (Chief Operating Officer) after the recruitment process was being gerrymandered to ensure that he, as an unmatched ANC praise poet, gets the job.
In this position he initiated the first (but not the last) illegal axing of highly qualified personnel at the SABC as well as members of the SABC board because they stood up against his misconducts. He also increased his salary of R1.5-million per year to R2.4-million, and awarded himself with a R33-million bonus after selling the SABC archives (the country's crown jewels!) for R533-million to MultiChoice.
Let me explain the value of South Africa’s Rand to my non-South African friends: Hlaudi's annual salary of R1.5-million was R125,000 per month, which he had increased to R2.4-million (R200,000 per month) – a salary increase of 60% in only one year.
Presently in SA, R2,423 per month is the minimum salary to be paid to a domestic servant working in a metropolitan area. (Less for those who work in the much larger non-metropolitan areas!) With this very meager income (though not as meager compared to the average income of non-executives) a person can buy about 303 loafs of bread. In other words, in his capacity as acting COO of the SABC, Motsoeneng raised his salary from equivalent to the salary of 52 domestic workers to the equivalent of 83 domestic workers. His bonus of R33-million is equivalent to the salaries of 13,619 domestic workers.
Hlaudi (Cloudy) Motsoeneng's arrogant and inappropriate doings were brought to the attention of SA’s Public Protector, who is tasked with the investigation of misconduct in any state affairs and all spheres of government including that of public administration in SA.
In her report called ”When Governance and Ethics Fail”, released in February 2014, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela confirmed Motsoeneng's improper conduct. She characterized his management style as “pathological”.
“Mr Motsoeneng has been allowed by successive Boards to operate above the law, undermining the GCEO among others, and causing the staff, particularly in the human resources and financial departments to engage in unlawful conduct.”
Among other remedial actions, she recommended that the appropriate disciplinary action be taken against Motsoeneng. (According to the Law the public protector’s recommended remedial actions are legal and binding and can only be set aside by the Supreme Court.) The SABC had 180 days to apply for a review of the report and its recommended remedial actions by the court.
In July 2014, despite the fact that the public protector's report explicitly stressed that Motsoeneng doesn't have the qualifications required for any executive post, the SABC board appointed him to the position of permanent COO. (During the parliamentary inquiry of the past two weeks, evidence was submitted that the meeting was in violation of the SABC policy and several regulations, and that Motsoeneng's appointment was pushed by the Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi, who happens to be one of President Zuma’s leverages.)
The DA (political opposition party) took the matter to court in November 2015. Judge Davis found that Motsoeneng’s promotion from acting COO to COO was “irrational”, and he ordered a disciplinary inquiry against Motsoeneng.
The SABC board's statement - that they conducted a disciplinary inquiry and found Motsoeneng not guilty of misconduct and fit and proper to be the SABC's COO, sent the DA back to court, demanding that the findings of the disciplinary inquiry be set aside, as Motsoeneng is still guilty according to the findings of the public protector in February 2014.
The SABC then indicated it would take the public protector’s report on judicial review. But first they had to appeal the November 2015 ruling that Motsoeneng’s promotion was “irrational”. On September 19th, the Supreme Court of Appeal rejected Motsoeneng’s bid to appeal the Western Cape High Court’s November 2015 ruling.
Beyond the comprehension of Motsoeneng and his pawns, is the fact that ALL LEGAL FEES, EXCEPT THE LEGAL FEES OF THE DA, HAS TO BE PAID WITH MONEY THAT BELONGS TO THE PEOPLE OF SOUTH AFRICA. The entire SABC belongs to the people of SA! Legal fees to the amount of R28-MILLION was spent on Motsoeneng's cases, said the chairman of the parliamentary ad hoc committee, Vincent Smith, more than once during the past week.
How many houses for the poor could have been built with R28-MILLION? How many poor students could have obtained university degrees free of charge if R28-MILLION was allocated to 'free education'?
The SABC board decided to move Motsoeneng from COO to the position he was in before he became acting COO: Group Executive of Corporate Affairs. Again in violation of the public protector's ruling that he may not be appointed in any executive position, as he doesn't have the required qualifications.
Again the DA took the matter to court.
Finally, on Monday, December 12th, the Western Cape High Court ruled that Hlaudi (Cloudy) Motsoeneng may not be appointed in any position at the SABC. He may, in fact, not set a foot at the SABC until the Supreme Court has found him not guilty of the allegations that were found to be 'substantiated' by the public protector in 2014. And this will never happen.
Yesterday, December 17th, The Organisation Against Tax Abuse (OUTA) opened a criminal case against Hlaudi Motsoeneng and several SABC board members on charges including fraud, misrepresentation and racketeering.
The opinion of an owfma-sa
I have a friend on Facebook, David Stillwell from California, who has the same advice for all my complaints about South African shenanigans: "Shoot them!"
So, while following the doings of Hlaudi (Cloudy) Motsoeneng, David's advice kept ringing in my mind and made me smile. So, I am able to testify that smiles prevent a person from losing their mind.
I also asked myself ‘what’s new at the SABC?’. It has been an ill-managed, political tool of the ruling party since before the launching of television in 1976. That it looks like a ‘normal’ and successful service to the public is thanks to hardworking announcers, journalists and technicians running the show while the chiefs in charge and the members of the board wage war against each other.
By the way, sighing also prevents a person from losing their mind. Especially when this person is an owfma-sa (ordinary, white, female, middle-aged, South African). That would be me.
Let's enjoy a performance of one of my favorite orchestras -
© 2016 Martie Coetser