The state broadcaster has appointed Abbey Makoe as its new political editor. TheMediaOnline reporter looks into his career and finds that he is no stranger to controversy.
Billed by the SA Broadcasting Corporation as an experienced journalist and a “revered and sought after political analyst”, Makoe was announced the new political editor of its news department on Thursday.
“Management under the leadership of Mr. Jimi Matthews, the Acting Head of News and Current Affairs commenced the process of finding a political editor earlier in the year following years of the position being vacant,” spokesman Kaizer Kganyago announced.
“Shortlisted candidates were invited to participate in the interview process and it was from there that Mr. Makoe was successful and recommended for appointment.”
The SABC summarises his career as such:
* Columnist at The Star and Pretoria News
* Deputy news editor of The Star
* Editor in chief of Royal News Service
* Gauteng editor of Drum Magazine
* News editor of Sowetan
* Senior writer for Sunday Independent and
* News editor at Bop Broadcasting.
For Makoe, the political editor is not a new position. He had been in that same position at the SABC from 2007 to 2008.
When he resigned in 2008, he reportedly said he was “very sad” to leave the SABC, “despite numerous challenges” in the job. SABC editor Snuki Zikalala hinted that he had been poached by a competitor because the state broadcaster had “well trained” journalists.
In that same year, Makoe made news headlines for very different reasons.
As the chairman of the Forum of Black Journalists, he had barred white journalists from attending an event organised by the FBJ.
The incident sparked numerous complaints with the SA Human Rights Commission, which eventually found that the FBJ had acted unconstitutionally by barring white journalists.
The SAHRC recommended that the FBJ considered amending its constitution to open its membership to all races.
But, according to a report in the Mail & Guardian at the time, Makoe called the SAHRC’s public forum a “shame trial” and that the FBJ had been invited to its hearings “under the guise that it was an open discussion on the question of racism”.
The SAHRC responded by saying Makoe was mischievous and untruthful.
Last year, Makoe was in the news again. This time, apparently for being paid to act as public relations consultant for former embattled public works minister, Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde.
The Cape Times reported that a certain Abbey Makoe owned Mpine M Consulting, which had been contracted to “help strengthen media expertise within the department”.
Quoting from a written parliamentary reply submitted by Mahlangu-Nkabinde’s successor, Thulas Nxesi, Mpine M Consulting was paid almost R500 000 for its work. This came in two instalments – R250 822 on September 5 and R237 143 on September 16.
This was despite Mahlangu-Nkabinde having a personal adviser, two spokespeople and a communications department, according to the Cape Times.
At the time, Mahlangu-Nkabinde was under fire following a finding by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela of irregularities in the signing of a police lease agreement.
The SABC on Thursday described Makoe’s appointment as a “strategic move”.
“The corporation is confident that his wealth of expertise in the political sphere will be of great value and will drive our news department to be ahead of its competitors,” said Kganyago.
Acting chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng added: “The appointment of Mr. Makoe was a strategic move, which will assist the corporation in filling key positions in the news department with talented and experienced personnel.
“Management is confident of his ability to execute his set duties and will offer him the necessary support.”
Kganyago said the new appointment came at an “opportune time as the SABC will be launching its 24 hour news channel soon. “It also signals the beginning of a new era in the news department, an era of excellence in journalism and news coverage.”
Makoe starts his new job on Monday, September 3.
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