Dishing dirt on Awful Park: The rot at the SABC is finally being exposed

The SABC’s sole remaining board member, Professor Mbulaheni Maghuve, defends his fitness to hold office. (Esa Alexander/The Times/Gallo)

The SABC’s sole remaining board member, Professor Mbulaheni Maghuve, defends his fitness to hold office. (Esa Alexander/The Times/Gallo)

  The SABC has failed democracy. Everyone with authority has failed the journalists at the SABC. And executive Hlaudi Motsoeneng – who the courts say should clearly not be at the SABC at all – appears to be running the corporation.

  These are just some of the things a parliamentary inquiry into the running of the public broadcaster has heard.
But the probe seems to represent a turn for the better for the SABC, with its take-no-prisoner moments and ham-fisted responses from those accused of mismanagement. Phillip de Wet has assembled some of the more memorable quotes about the ongoing proceedings.

     
  • “Our understanding is that Mr Motsoeneng has the support of the president.” – SABC journalist Lukhanyo Calata, in testimony before the inquiry
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  • “I was generally quite juniorised in my position. It seemed Mr Motsoeneng was the go-to man.” – Former SABC chief executive Lulama Mokhobo
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  • “All of these people sold out journalists and sold out journalism … the minister failed us … Mr Motsoeneng failed us … with all due respect, Parliament failed us.” – SABC journalist Krivani Pillay
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  • “I do think there’s something wrong with SABC … First and foremost what I think is wrong with SABC, I don’t think that most of the people that are there are loyal to SABC itself.” – SABC board chairperson Mbulaheni Maguvhe
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  • “Please be informed that by law you are required to answer fully and satisfactorily all the questions lawfully put to you, or to produce any document that you are required to produce in connection with the subject matter of the inquiry, notwithstanding the fact that the answer or the document could incriminate you or expose you to criminal or civil proceedings or damages. You are, however, protected in that evidence given under oath or affirmation before a house or a committee may not be used against you in any court or place outside Parliament, except in criminal proceedings concerning a charge of perjury or a charge relating to the evidence or documents required in these proceedings.” – The warning given to witnesses called before the inquiry
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  • “At a certain point – in fact, he did this twice if not thrice – the minister felt that we were suspicious of him … Thrice he offered to take a lie detector test so that we could prove that there was nothing corrupt about what he was doing … It was hugely embarrassing for us.” – Former SABC board member Bongani Khumalo, describing board interactions with former communications minister Yunus Carrim
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  • “[He] acted against the entrenched interests in the SABC.” – News channel ANN7, explaining the “real reasons” behind what it reported as an inquiry aimed at Motsoeneng
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  • “What the SABC has not informed you about is that they have allowed SABC money to be used to build a rival channel, ANN7.” – SABC contributor Vuyo Mvoko
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  • “Traitors, protecting your white friends in Parliament who started this, telling lies about your comrades. You are warned … watch the blood flow.” – The text of a message sent to one of the SABC journalists testifying before the inquiry
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  • “[We must] hold to account SABC management for their trickery and lies, for flouting due process, defying Parliament, insulting the intelligence of the public and running the SABC as if it were their own fiefdom and not a crucial public institution and asset.” – Civil society group Right2Know, in a submission to the inquiry
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  • “Research shows how the SABC has failed to meet its public service mandate, especially in one of the most crucial periods, [the] run-up to the democratic local elections.” – Nongovernmental group Media Monitoring Africa, in a presentation to the inquiry
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  • “[A]ll public entities and departments are reminded to respect the other arms of the state – the judiciary and Parliament. They are required to co-operate with the two institutions.” – Statement from the presidency on December 9, headlined Respect for Parliament and its oversight role but making no mention of the SABC
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  • “I mentioned kangaroo court … I said this looks more like a kangaroo court … I withdraw [the comment].” – SABC human resources executive Mohlolo Lephaka on December 13, after being called on to apologise for criticising the parliamentary process the previous week
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  • “Even when colleagues were talking, they would look around and find out who is listening in on their conversations.” – Former SABC labour relations manager Madiwe Nkosi, referring to the involvement of the State Security Agency at the broadcaster

  The Cape Town high court ruled this week that Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s appointment was unconstitutional, illegal and invalid, and that he was not entitled to hold any position at the public broadcaster.

Phillip de Wet

Phillip de Wet

Phillip de Wet writes about politics, society, economics, and the areas where these collide. He has never been anything other than a journalist, though he has been involved in starting new newspapers, magazines and websites, a suspiciously large percentage of which are no longer in business. PGP fingerprint: CF74 7B0F F037 ACB9 779C 902B 793C 8781 4548 D165 Read more from Phillip de Wet