Unions aim to block SABC's 'conduit'

The newly appointed executive manager for stakeholder management at the SABC, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, is known by SABC staff as the “conduit” because of the close relationship he claims to have with President Jacob Zuma.

Unions claim that the corporation’s group chief executive, Solly Mokoetle, hired Motsoeneng irregularly as a senior manager in his office, despite the fact that Motsoeneng allegedly lied on his application form that he had passed matric.

Mokoetle is likely to face disciplinary action by the SABC board and Motsoeneng’s promotion, which has raised the ire of the Broadcasting, Electronic Media and Allied Workers’ Union (Bemawu), could further weaken the chief ­executive’s position.

Bemawu president Hannes du Buisson said this week that he had documents showing that Motsoeneng lied when he claimed to have a matric.

“Such a position—manager of stakeholder relations—has never existed at the SABC before. He has never spoken to us and we are stakeholders,” said Du Buisson. “Our members have told us Motsoeneng walks around saying he is directly linked to the president and has a ­mandate from government,” he said.

Du Buisson said Bemawu was unhappy because Motsoeneng’s position had never been advertised, “which flouts our corporate governance rules”.
In addition, he said that Mokoetle had clearly stated that “the SABC is bloated at the top, yet he continues to appoint people as managers. It is the group chief executive who should manage the relationship with ­stakeholders.”

Motsoeneng declined to discuss his new title. “Speak to Kaizer,” he said. “I have no comment to make as I am not the SABC spokesman.”

‘Strategic position’
SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago confirmed that Motsoeneng still worked out of the SABC’s Bloemfontein office, where he formerly held the title of regional editor.

“This is a strategic position in the office of the group chief executive; thus the group chief executive has the prerogative to appoint any person that fits with the requirements,” said Kganyago.

Asked about Motsoeneng’s role in Mokoetle’s office, Kganyago said: “The title is self-explanatory.”

Speaking from China, where he is accompanying Zuma, presidential spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said: “The president does not have anything to do with the appointments at the SABC. We have so many claims about friendships with the president.”

Last year the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) wrote to Zuma, urging him to intervene after trade unions complained that Motsoeneng had “run amok” and “was terrorising employees” in the SABC’s Bloemfontein office in Zuma’s name.

“There is an employee — who is claiming to be a big friend of the president; he has a big picture of him and the president in his office,” the CWU told Zuma, asking him to intervene.

Motsoeneng has had a colourful career at the SABC. He worked for Lesedi FM’s current affairs section before being axed in 2007 for allegedly contravening SABC rules. The CCMA endorsed his dismissal, but he appealed. The SABC controversially rehired him in 2008. It was alleged in media reports at the time that former group chief executive Dali Mpofu had received instructions from a senior ANC member to re-employ him.

The instruction was allegedly relayed to the broadcaster’s former head of news, Snuki Zikalala, who refused to hire him again, causing a reported “clash of the titans”.

Motsoeneng’s lawyers said at the time he was caught in the middle of a political fight he knew nothing about.

Glynnis Underhill

Glynnis Underhill

Glynnis Underhill has been in journalism for more years than she cares to remember. She loves a good story as much now as she did when she first started. The only difference is today she hopes she is giving something back to the country. Read more from Glynnis Underhill

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