The SABC has been forced to defend hosting its controversial former chief operations officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, on Morning Live.
The broadcaster came in for some serious flak over broadcasting a 35 minute interview with Motsoeneng by host Sakina Kamwendo on the SABC’s flagship morning show.
BEYOND SHOCKING. What's going on at the SABC?
The SABC chose to give/do a 35 MINUTE interview with its famously matricless, fired former boss, Hlaudi Motsoeneng on @MorningLiveSABC on @SABC_2 & SABC News (@DStv 404). 35 minutes.
Not even a state president is given that airtime. pic.twitter.com/JFdbmlhw5p
— TVwithThinus (@TVwithThinus) December 11, 2018
But the SABC said while it noted concerns by members of the public, SABC News had carried several stories and interviews with various stakeholders regarding the dire financial situation of the public broadcaster.
“Some of these have been very critical of Mr Motsoeneng’s role during his term at the Corporation, and how his decisions are believed to have led to the current financial crisis that the SABC is experiencing,” spokesperson Neo Momodu said in a statement.
“While it is understandable that featuring him on our news programmes would generate anger and discomfort for some of our audiences, it is our journalistic obligation to afford him the ‘right to reply’. He had to be given the opportunity to state his side of the story as he has widely been condemned as the architect of the SABC’s collapse.”
Our guest this morning is former SABC COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng. We invite you to share any comments or questions you have for him – on his tenure at the public broadcaster. #MorningLive @SakinaKamwendo @LeanneManas pic.twitter.com/eJCxOLapwA
— MorningLiveSABC (@MorningLiveSABC) December 11, 2018
— Siegfried Hannig (@SigRandburg) December 12, 2018
Motsoeneng is in deep legal trouble with his former employer, which, with the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), is trying to recoup R21 744 002.32 from him. This includes bonuses and salary increases he paid himself, as well as R10.2 million for illegal appointments and dismissals. It also wants to recoup R2.4 million paid to “musical legends” by Motsoeneng.
At the same time, the SIU’s investigation is probing SABC board members and “delinquent directors” for failing to act in the best interests of the SABC. “The SIU is investigating possible contraventions of The Prevention and Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act at all levels within the SABC including the boards,” it said, and is “also considering remedial action against individuals where governance failures have occurred and reporting requirements have not been complied with”.
Motsoening is fighting another challenge, and that is to get the SABC to pay out his R11.5 million “success bonus”. The SABC wants an interim order to stop its pension fund, a separate entity, from paying him his multi-million rand pension.
Motsoeneng told supporters he was going to run for president, and accused the ANC of failing to support him.”“For the first time in the history of SA, the ANC and other political parties colluded to remove Hlaudi at the SABC. Here is the question: if the ANC said, ‘we stand for transformation’, they were supposed to defend me,” he said outside court on 6 December.
He repeated his claim that he would run for president, challenging President Cyril Ramaphosa and starting his own political party.
Still, the SABC has stood by its decision to give him airtime, citing its obligation to be even-handed and balanced in its news reporting.
“It is within this spirit that Mr Motsoeneng was given the right to reply to criticism that has been levelled against him in our reportage,” Momodu said. “Additionally, the public news service takes its mandate seriously by ensuring diversity and plurality in the voices it reflects in covering the South African story.”