The Right2Know Campaign welcomes the verdict in the disciplinary process of former SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng. This is a vital step towards building a new future for the SABC. However, we believe Hlaudi Motsoeneng should still pay back millions of rands in his ‘bonuses’ – these funds are owed to the South African public.
Hlaudi’s arrogance had grown to the extent of driving him to not only attack the interim SABC Board but the Parliamentary inquiry on the SABC too. We note that this occurs soon after the sacking of James Aguma who together with Motsoeneng contributed to the degeneration of governance at the SABC. We believe, in bringing these two to book, the interim SABC Board is on the right path to rejuvenating the public broadcaster.
R2K reiterates the need to appoint competent executives, fully committed to the SABC’s mandate, as soon as possible and through a transparent process. This includes a permanent CEO, COO and CFO. All efforts must go towards an SABC management structure that is independent of government at all levels, and of private sector interests.
Sound governance and management structures are a pre-condition for the proper resourcing of the public broadcaster from both public and other non-commercial sources.
We are however deeply concerned by recent reports alleging that new Minister of Communications Ayanda Dlodlo has received sponsorship by Gupta associates. We are disappointed by the Minister, who had impressed us with a desire to strengthen the public broadcaster and the community media sector by committing to ensure that these entities remain independent, well-resourced and capable of holding power to account, be it corporate, state or any other power.
The SABC must not lean towards politically biased coverage, and must not actively or indirectly suppress views and content deemed to be critical of the ruling political and economic elites. Editorial policies should always be the outcome of a participatory process that engages key stakeholders.
In order to rebuild people’s confidence in the public broadcaster, end the climate of harassment and intimidation of SABC’s workers, and to raise the morale of staff, there must be a full investigation of the ties between the Minister of Communications and the Gupta family, the role and conduct of the State Security Agency in investigating employees, and removing the problematic ‘interception’ clauses in recent SABC employments contracts which force workers to consent to the interception of their communications.
Further, the board should ensure that the SABC adopts comprehensive policies on protecting workers’ communication and personal information, as well as a whistleblower charter that will protect and promote whistleblowing within the organisation.
Right2Know calls for a broad-based consultative process urgently to allow for proper public participation in the rejuvenation of the public broadcaster.