The SABC Board has held a media briefing after its appearance in Parliament yesterday, claiming it had been treated unfairly during the session.
SABC board chairperson, Professor Mbulaheni Maguvhe, explained that these “unfair” elements included the board receiving a brief about what it was expected to present, which was subsequently changed. He said the board did not get a chance to respond to the second set of questions the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee had posed, and said it appeared the committee intended to dissolve the board by any means necessary.
“These are bullying tactics and it can’t be allowed in our country for parliamentarians to use bullying tactics,” Maguvhe said. Discussing the fact that the brief changed, Maguvhe said the SABC board was criticised for not touching on certain elements during the parliamentary session, but they were not briefed to touch on those elements. The board was given the first brief on 26 September and the subsequent changed brief on 30 September, which Maguvhe said didn’t give the board enough time to circulate and discuss the changed brief and the presentation it gave.
He added that before proceedings began, he was informed by a “beautiful bird whispering in his ear” that the two board members, Krish Naidoo and Vusi Mavuso, were going to resign.
Maguvhe also touched on “two SABC board members who were fired” (he declined to name any names), explaining that one of them was involved in fraudulent conduct and the other one did not declare their conflict of interest.
“The board member who was fired was involved in fraudulent conduct and I have proof of that. And these are not fabricated, these are real facts. And we have always been telling parliament that the people you trust are not always as faithful as you believe,” Maguvhe explained. He added that this board member was praised by parliament. “The problem in South Africa is that those of us who are doing our work diligently, who want to root out corruption and other malpractices, we are not liked … we are trying to root out corruption,” he said.
Responding to the Hlaudi Motsoeneng situation, Maguvhe said, “I am still wondering what judgment we have not complied with. We were told to institute a disciplinary hearing against Hlaudi and we did that. Now we are told, no that was a whitewash. The problem with people is that they already have their own outcome. When that doesn’t happen it means the Tribunal was a farce”.
He concluded with “I am still waiting for the letter bullying me to resign. That is what they are saying. They want to make me, through the so called inquiry, become a coward. I am not sure that it is coming, but in order for me not to keep you in suspense, let the inquiry come, I am ready for it, I am not going nowhere”.
When asked whether he would undertake to pay the costs of an inevitable protracted legal battle, Maguvhe responded, “Isn’t it my right, if needs be, to utilise the courts? When others do it, it is fine, but when it has to be my turn to utilise the courts it is not fine. I think you are unfair”.
The question of Motsoeneng’s qualifications also came up during questions from the media. It was reiterated that Motsoeneng has a GIBS qualification as well as a “myriad of other certificates”, so is certainly qualified. Motsoeneng himself addressed the gathering, going on a tangent about the importance of education, how he supports education, and explaining that the most qualified person is not always the best person for the job.
Motsoeneng also took shots at the media asking why journalists were concentrating on SABC and not focusing on other broadcasters and print publications that are also losing money and retrenching staff. “Ordinary people do not know what a journalist is talking about when they say SABC lost R411 million. That is misleading … As journalists you need to be fair and report the facts,” he said.
Motsoeneng also reiterated that SABC was not about profit, but rather about providing great content and ensuring that all 11 languages were covered. “Money is there but we are investing the money where we need to invest the money. And we are going to invest the money,” he said.
Towards the end of the briefing, Maguvhe reprimanded journalists, telling them he would not do their homework for them and that they should find out facts themselves, asking them whether they were listening this time round as they clearly hadn’t before, and questioning the motive behind a question on who compiled the parliamentary presentation MPs had so thoroughly slated.
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