/ 3 June 2010

SABC board must take action against Molefe, say SOS

The SABC board must take urgent action against the recent appointment of Phil Molefe as head of news, the SOS Campaign said on Thursday.

“[SOS] notes with dismay that SABC CEO, Solly Mokoetle has gone ahead and confirmed the appointment of Mr Phil Molefe as head of news,” the organisation said in a statement.

“Mr Mokoetle is now further deepening the corporate governance crisis at the SABC.”

The SOS Campaign represents a number of trade unions, independent producer organisations, NGOs, community-based organisations, academics and freedom of expression activists. It was previously called the Save Our SABC Campaign.

In light of these events, the organisation also believed the board needed to take immediate, appropriate and strong action against Mokoetle, and board chairperson, Ben Ngubane.

SOS said Ngubane also showed “flagrant disregard for good corporate governance practices”.

“We once again note [a] statement he released [last month] where he stated that he had taken the decision to appoint the head of news on his own, thus circumventing the SABC’s own internal processes.

“We call on the board to take strong, decisive action against the chair and conduct an inquiry into the matter.”

Nyanda to meet board ‘soon’
Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda on Tuesday said he would meet the board soon about the recent appointment of Molefe.

Nyanda said he was “concerned” about the development and appealed for “calm and restraint”.

He urged all board members to refrain from making statements while this issue was being dealt with.

SOS said: “This is a critical moment for the SABC, and in particular the SABC board.”

Last weekend, 10 members of the 12-member SABC board held a meeting to discuss Molefe’s appointment.

Reports suggested Mokoetle and Ngubane were in favour of Molefe’s appointment, but the rest of the board was opposed to it.

Senior positions at the public broadcaster had been the centre of controversy for months.

In January, the new SABC board was said to be unhappy with the appointment of Mokoetle — the former Telkom Media chief content officer — as the CEO. He was appointed by the interim board. Mokoetle, who was the SABC’s chief operations officer between 2001 and December 2006, succeeded Dali Mpofu, who was paid R11-million to leave the broadcaster. Mpofu’s departure came after he had a public spat with then head of news Snuki Zikalala, whom he accused of leaking confidential SABC documents to the media.

Mpofu subsequently suspended Zikalala, but then the board suspended Mpofu.

At the time, it emerged that the SABC was in dire financial straits. In July last year the SABC reported a loss of R839-million for the past financial year.

The Pan Africanist Youth Congress of Azania said on Wednesday it was “perplexed by the lack of accountability” at the SABC.

“The public broadcaster has been in shambles for too long,” it said in a statement. – Sapa