APOLOGY: The Media Online apologises to the SABC for an inadvertent error in the posting of the broadcaster’s response to an opinion piece we published recently. An earlier version of the story was posted, that did not differentiate an insertion by the editor from the content of the letter by SABC spokesman, Kaizer Kganyago. The editor inserted an explanation as to who Phosane Mngqibisa was for ease of reference for readers, but the early version appeared as if the insertion were the words of Mr Kganyago. The error has been rectified.
The SABC has noted with interest the opinion piece by Ed Herbst on The Media Online, writes Kaizer Kganyago, group head of communications at the SABC. Here, he responds to the story, ‘The SABC’s toxic cocktail: Mokhobo, Motsoeneng and Molefe‘.
The SABC is the first to acknowledge that it is faced with many challenges and at the same time, has taken great strides in turning itself into a public service broadcaster, which serves the diverse needs and wants of the South African public, through its three television and 19 radio stations, broadcasting in all 11 official languages.
The first issue which needs to be clarified once more is that it is true that Ms. Lulama Mokhobo is related to Mr. Phosane Mngqibisa [Editor: the man said to be the communications minister’s partner], is that a crime? There has been no evidence till today that Minister Dina Pule “pressurised the SABC Board to appoint Mokhobo”, as claimed by Herbst, who quotes Mail and Guardian sources. In trying to be sensational, Herbst writes that Ms. Mokhobo was appointed the SABC’s GCEO a day after she resigned from Miranda Minerals. So what? The utterances are just made to try and ridicule Ms. Mokhobo and are boarding on being made as a reference that black people are corrupt.
With regards to Mr. Phil Molefe’s disciplinary hearing, being delayed due to Ms. Mokhobo being ill at the time, documentation regarding her illness and being booked off where provided to that committee. To try and undermine her health and her doctor’s advice at the time is quite disturbing and inhumane. Whether she attended other meetings is besides the point as she attended them when she was better and in a position to do so.
At the end of the day the courts ruled in favour of the SABC, that the suspension and the disciplinary hearing against him were lawful. The SABC will not be undeterred by individuals and media reports which have their own agenda, in continually perpetuating a negative and incorrect image of the SABC, as it goes about its day to day operations. The issues of the case will not be discussed as the disciplinary hearing is still set to take place.
The SABC has at no point denied that Mr. Motsoeneng, when he joined the organisation did not have a matric. In addition it is a lie and gossip that the organisation has appointed a full-time bodyguard for Mr. Motsoeneng, “at taxpayers” expense. Mr. Herbst must bring forth proof of this allegation, which he repeats off a City Press article.
Mr. Herbst is in his attack on the SABC, is sensational, often times lacking concrete evidence for his allegations. At one point he states that, money and was ‘stolen and spent on tickets for the 2010 World Cup, overseas trips, Johnny Walker Blue, R40,000 a month petrol claims” and “grandiose extensions to the Auckland Park foyer” amongst other unsubstantiated claims. To make a claim that money was stolen, the least Mr. Herbst could have done was to provide evidence or request a response from the SABC to get clarity on issues he knows nothing about or has little knowledge.
For example, the “grandiose extension of the Auckland Park foyer” he speaks about was to make our commercial radio stations METRO FM and 5FM studios into world-class studios, as well as to give the SABC a further professional look it deserves, as the biggest and leading broadcaster on the African continent.
SABC News International may have cost the SABC a large sum of money, as it was a complex operation with journalists stationed across the continent, but the stories which were reported gave insight into news going on the continent, with an African view. Indeed in the end the bureaus had to be closed down, however that will not stop the SABC in continuously being an industry leader as other broadcasters have now done the same thing, following in the organisation’s footsteps.
If Herbst understood what ‘developmental journalism’ stood for, he would know it is not about party news, but about, amongst other issues, what government is doing for the people of its country, and the nation needs to be informed so that they can make better decisions about their lives and hold government accountable.
The SABC like any other media house has its own editorial policies. It is ludicrous that other media houses and individuals like Herbst, suggest that SABC employees must not abide by these editorial policies, which are guided by the Broadcasting Act of 1996. Legal institutions which have a bearing on the SABC, can at any time interrogate these policies, and the SABC can be held accountable if found to have transgressed the policies.
Around the issue of corruption at the organisation, Herbst should know that the SABC appeared before Parliament several times last year giving feedback and reports on the status of several SIU investigations into employees who had been found to have defrauded the SABC. So the organisation is not sitting back and not doing anything about such issues.
It is quite interesting to note that Mr. Herbst worked for the SABC for 28 years, from 1977 until 2005. In describing Herbst, it is stated that he left the organisation “without other employment in prospect because of the pervasive and general corruption-which still prevails”. This clearly demonstrates that he was comfortable working for a state machinery whose aim was to advance the system of Apartheid. To imply that there were no challenges or corruption at the SABC pre-1994 is ludicrous.
Kaizer Kganyago is group head of communications at the SABC.