Editorial: Motsoeneng has been here before

To undertand Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s peculiar management style at SABC, you need to go back to 2003 when he assumed the role of current affairs executive producer at Lesedi FM.

A buried internal audit report from the same year had raised concern about his qualifications, casting doubt over whether he owned the matric certificate he claimed to possess when the corporation hired him in 1992.

The audit report was resurrected in 2006 during a probe ordered by then head of news, Snuki Zikalala.

This investigation was sparked by staff complaints against Motsoeneng, with several misconduct allegations surfacing.

They led to his dismissal, but what followed was an epic battle to have the prodigal prince restored to his post. It happened with the same zeal with which Motsoeneng’s stooges have recently gone about having him reinstated as de facto chief.

Back then his arch-defender was former CEO Dali Mpofu, who fell out with Zikalala spectacularly in 2008, right around the time the Polokwane putsch was under way. Motsoeneng had already nailed his colours to the mast of President Jacob Zuma.

With hindsight, it is no surprise that he was subsequently reinstated.

Since then, as the soap opera that is the state broadcaster has rolled on, SABC boards and chief executives have come and gone as the winds of political expediency were whipped up. Only Motsoeneng has survived the tumult. In fact, he’s positively thrived, which explains his uncontrollable narcissism.

In parliament, on Wednesday, the latest episode in this saga unfolded. As yet another SABC board collapsed, under the resignations of two non-executives, Motsoeneng was on hand to watch it all.

Never mind he is the architect of the farce. The man has no shame. But he has been here before. He knows the terrain and has escaped the factional contests that have leeched the lifeblood from the broadcaster.

The Broadcasting Act commits the state to a “South African broadcasting system . . . owned and controlled by South Africans”. For that to be true, Motsoeneng must go.

The ANC, his erstwhile patron, can redeem itself somewhat in this regard with ongoing petitions for his removal. It would be small recompense for the blight it has visited upon the SABC and the nation.

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