Much of the best investigative journalism today is being produced by Naspers reporters – one thinks about the role that Erika Gibson of Beeld played in documenting the escape from South Africa of Al Bashir and the reporting of Pieter-Louis Myburgh on the PRASA trains for which he received the Taco Kuiper award this year.
Some of this journalism is inaccessible to people not conversant in Afrikaans which is why I translated Hanlie Retief’s interview with former Cape Times editor Alide Dasnois into English.
As Natasha Marrian has pointed out in Business Day, a battle is being waged between those in the ANC who want to restore credibility to the party by restoring credibility to the SABC and those trying to maintain the status quo at all costs.
“This battle, which has been going on for more than a year, is further evidence that the ANC is no longer the political driving force behind the government. Power is firmly vested in the president and his acolytes, who are in strategic positions in government and state institutions.”
One of those battle sites is parliament and Jan Gerber, Netwerk24 reporter in parliament, provided some useful insights a few days ago on the Hlaudi Motsoeneng debates occurring there.
Here is a translated version of his article, reprinted with his permission.
ANC in Parliament encourages Hlaudi Motsoeneng
The report by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela on the range of findings against Hlaudi Motsoeneng is called When Governance and Ethics Fail.
Should one write a report on why Motsoeneng now acts as he wishes, despite the Madonsela findings, one could probably call it ‘When parliamentary oversight fails’.
The feeling of impunity which is seemingly attached to Motsoeneng these days, is fed to a great extent by the political subservience of the ANC members in the communication portfolio committee and their lack of backbone.
From mid-2014 – more or less when Motsoeneng was appointed as operational head at the SABC amidst great controversy – I regularly found myself reporting on the meetings of this committee.
This is the committee that has to keep an eye on the SABC, but it has regularly fallen into absurdity since it seems to be using George Orwell’s 1984 as a guide.
Initially the committee, with Joyce Moloi-Moropa at the helm at the time, fulfilled its role of oversight effectively by getting rid of Ellen Tshabalala, the then chairperson of the SABC board, who had lied about her qualifications.
Motsoeneng, however, has never been subjected to this type of oversight.
In fact, when he arrives at the committee, sometimes in his purple suit, the ANC MPs practically fall over their feet to butter him up. They, in particular, love to congratulate him on the manner in which they say he has turned around the SABC’s financial situation. This is despite the loss of around R400 million in the 2014/15 financial year and the millions of rands in wasted and irregular spending.
When the opposition MPs ask probing questions, the ANC MPs, in particular Maesela ‘Big Boy’ Kekana, make no bones about silencing them. About the EFF MP, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, Kekana recently said to the acting chairman, Dikeledi Tsotetsi: “We must treat him as if he is absent at this meeting. This I command!
It was at this meeting that Tsotetsi also said: “I will clamp down on everybody!”
Another popular excuse not to have to talk about Motsoeneng’s long list of slip-ups, is that such matters are claimed to be sub judice. When the committee sought to discuss the role played by Communications Minister by Faith Muthambi in purging the SABC board of members who were critical of Motsoeneng, the debate was nipped in the bud.
Jan Gerber is a journalist for Netwerk24. This column first appeared in Die Burger.
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