In the interest of good governance, we can only hope that the interim board is appointed on a permanent basis to continue their task in restoring confidence at the public broadcaster, writes Sibusiso Samantungwa.
Disgraced former South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng and his cronies, have fallen after the interim board and the Minister of Communications, Ayanda Dlodlo, promised to clean up the mess at the public broadcaster.
Barely three months after taking over, the SABC interim board vowed to bring the public broadcaster back to its former glory days. Prior to them being appointed, Hlaudi and co. instilled the culture of fear, intimidation, and shape-in or ship-out, let alone the brazen behaviour of canning stories at SABC. As journalists were crying over horrendous working conditions, Hlaudi pocketed millions in bonuses as CEO and CFOs became minions who reported to him as COO. SABC, as one journalist describe it, is “a military base camp”.
Hlaudi amassed power that was beyond the board that appointed him as COO. To further cement his ruthless power and dictatorship, he appointed lackey henchmen that only serve at his behest – failing which – you become one of his many casualties. He became not only poisonous to the functioning and operations, but the monetary tab ran dry owing to his ill-advised decisions that made the public broadcaster a charity base for competitors.
As the interim board explained in disbelief about losses during Hlaudi’s tenure, “there was almost nothing left in the reserve, not to even money to pay salaries to staff members as decisions taken were not benefiting the SABC, but those in partnership with them,” said board deputy chairperson Mathatha Tsedu.
When the board started to sweep the floor, it found that Hlaudi had created controversy within the organisation. Beaming his vacuous smile, James Aguma became the key operator. The interim board’s work became difficult. Detailing events leading up to Aguma’s disciplinary hearing, Tsedu told the portfolio committee on communications that “there was a deliberate attempt to destroy evidence and information as to avoid accountability.” Aguma, as a key operator was always AWOL when oversight were conducted at the SABC. When invited in Parliament, he never pitched – but doctor’s notes were always present on his behalf.
Determined as ever, the interim board had the support of all political parties and almost of all stakeholders. The interim board vowed to continue with their quest to bring those involved to task. Indeed, one-after-another, they were falling from grace like apples from a tree. Before they went straight to the untouchable Hlaudi, the interim board was appointed after Professor Mbulaheni Maguvhe bowed out after remaining the lone board member after many resigned.
Then Hlaudi was to follow as he has been since dismissed with many legal actions haunting him from his grave. Aguma bowed out this week after the interim board forced him to resign and, he too, faces more legal actions for breaching fiduciary duties and there is still more of those Hlaudi acolytes who will fall.
In the interest of good governance, we can only hope that the interim board is appointed on a permanent basis to continue their task in restoring confidence at the public broadcaster.
Sibusiso Samantungwa is an aspiring media and communications specialist. Apart from writing unsolicited opinion pieces, he monitors media events around the country. He is also a member of the ANC and ANCYL at Abuqulusi Region in KwaZulu – Natal. He works for the ANC Media and Communications in Parliament. He writes in his personal capacity.