The Media Workers Association of South Africa (Mwasa) has told the SABC it has declared a dispute over the appointment of Hlaudi Motsoeneng as chief operations officer (COO) of the broadcaster. The union’s general secretary, Tuwani Gumani, says the move was in response to the failure of the SABC to “follow established recruitment and placement procedures in the appointment of Mr Motsoeneng as the COO of the SABC”.
In a letter to the SABC, titled ‘Mwasa dispute regarding violation of appointment procedures’, Gumani said the SABC’s failure to advertise the vacancy “has had the effect of denying other aspirant candidates the right and opportunity to contest openly for the job”. Gumani said in a dispute resolution procedure is provided for in an LOR Agreement with the SABC.
Guwani told The Media Online that the SABC is now obliged to set up a dispute resolution meeting within five working days. “The parties will attempt to resolve the matter and if no resolution/agreement is reached, then the matter will be referred to CCMA in terms of s.10 of the Employment Equity Act (prevention of unfair discrimination) for Conciliation,” he said. The CCMA must set down a conciliation date within 30 calendar days. “If the matter remains unresolved, we escalate to Labour Court for adjudication,” he said.
Mwasa hopes the SABC will be compelled to “reverse the appointment, advertise the vacancy and appoint a suitable candidate”. Gumani said the union had the law on it side.
Asked if the SABC and its board was obliged to respond to Mwasa, Gumani said the broadcaster didn’t have an “independent, capable board at the SABC.
“What, with a compromised chairperson who engineers a vote for herself as CEO after bumping Lulama Mokhobo off?” He said Mwasa wasn’t expecting any action from the board.
In an earlier, strongly worded statement, Mwasa said the “shenanigans surrounding the hustled appointment of the controversial COO of the SABC” was like a repeat episode of an old series. “It has been a case of crisis management that includes massive golden-handshakes and political back-patting. We have seen it all before but there seems to be no end to it,” Gumani wrote.
He said the SABC’s problems had to be addressed at a fundamental level, and just treating the symptoms – such as the “legendary instability” of the communications ministry, the public broadcaster’s board and its executive management – was no way to cure the “contagion” for once and for all.
“However the latest instalment involving the Minister, the SABC board, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications, the Office of the Public Protector and others trumps all previous displays of ineptitude, incapacity, inefficiency, corruption and of abuse of privilege to serve,” Gumani said.
He said it was unacceptable that a series of “individuals, even mavericks and populists” are “persistently touted as messianic appointees that will ‘turn the SABC around’.”
“We have said it before that the SABC needs strong collective management that possesses appropriate skills-sets, knowledge and comprehensive appreciation of the organisation’s business, nature and culture. These must form the basic requirements to be met by incumbents tasked with ensuring that the SABC fulfils and meets its mandate obligations at optimal levels. Meeting the least criteria and mediocre performance amounts to an insult to the South African public that deserves far more than brazen displays of greed, self-interest and corruption that have so far been the hallmarks of SABC’s chequered history,” Gumani wrote.
Gumani said the SABC, as a public utility, should be accessible to all citizens and should not be “annexed as a one-way public address system that censors dissent and unjustifiably excludes views that may be unpopular with a section of our society”.
He said Mwasa repeated its call for a national colloquium of all interested stakeholders to “address measures to arrest the rampant demise of the SABC and to reassert the SABC once more as an internationally revered national broadcasting institution.”
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