SABC, Mokoetle part ways

South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) group CEO Solly Mokoetle has resigned with immediate effect.

In a short statement to the press, the SABC the board said: “The SABC and Mr Solly Mokoetle wish to announce that Mr Mokoetle has resigned as the SABC CEO with effect from January 19 2011 and will pursue his career elsewhere. The parties have settled all other disputes between them and wish each other well fro the future.”

SABC CEO Solly Mokoetle announced his resignation in a press conference on Wednesday January 19, saying there are ‘irreconcilable differences’ between him and the board.

Earlier on Wednesday the SABC board met with Mokoetle’s lawyers and a settlement was reached that board member Cedric Gina insisted was confidential. However, Gina said, “I can say without any fear, it is not a [golden] handshake.”

Mokoetle said although the decision was not easy, it was in the best interests of the SABC, its staff, the nation, the board, his family and himself.

“I have been a broadcaster since the age of 18 and that’s all I know how to do,” he said.

The board said it was grateful for Mokoetle’s settlement offer as it would allow the company to fill the position quickly. “If we had gone through litigation it would have taken two years to find a new GCEO,” said Gina.

Mokoetle said he did not know what the future held for him. “What I do know is I’m very, very exhausted, I’m going to take time to go rest. But I hope I can still serve in this industry.”

The road to resignation

  • December 2009—Solly Mokoetle appointed new CEO of the SABC

  • December 2009—President Jacob Zuma appoints new board with effect from January 2010

  • January 2010—The new board intends to challenge Mokoetle’s appointment by the interim board as it didn’t allow for due process to be followed, i.e. for the new board to appoint their own CEO

  • January 2010—Then communications minister Simphiwe Nyanda defends Mokoetle’s appointment

  • January 2010—New board denies that there is a rift between it and Mokoetle because of his appointment

  • January 2010—Mokoetle criticised for allegedly questionable corporate governance and recommends appropriate disciplinary action against those implicated on a “shabby” 2005 audit report

  • March 2010—Gab Mompone, the SABC’s former acting chief executive accuses the new chief executive Solly Mokoetle of having a pre-existing genda to get him sacked.

  • June 2010—Mokoetle announces Phil Molefe as the new SABC head of news despite the board opposing the appointment

  • August 2010—Board declares appointment of Molefe invalid after board chairperson Ben Ngubane and Mokoetle failed to consult the rest of the board about the appointment

  • August 2010—Relations between the board and Mokoetle become reportedly hostile

  • August 2010—Mokoetle accused of failing to meet a March deadline to deliver a turnaround strategy for board approval

  • August 2010—Mokoetle is suspended by the board eight months after his appointment. Molefe’s appointment and failure to produce the strategy for the broadcaster by March were seen as contributing factors

  • August 2010—Unions accuse Mokoetle of hiring Hlaudi Motsoeneng as manager for stakeholder management irregularly

  • August 2010—Mokoetle intends to challenge suspension and any disciplinary action that may follow

  • September 2010—Mokoetle files papers at the Arbitration Federation of South Africa asking for the matter to be heard urgently

  • October 2010—Mokoetle takes financial strain, saying he has run up legal bills of more than R500 000 in the six weeks since his supsension

  • November 2010—The SABC’s board objects to paying Mokoetle’s legal fees based on his R2-million annual salary.

  • January 2011—Mokoetle resigns

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