Sat Dec 20 10:37:37 SAST 2014

Now Sabc staffers want wider probe

Apr 15, 2012 | NORMAN MASUNGWINI and STAFF REPORTER |

FORMER SABC employees who lodged a complaint with Public Protector Thuli Madonsela have approached her office again, asking her to broaden her investigations to include the broadcaster's current CEO Lulama Mokhobo.

They have told Madonsela that they have grounds to believe that Mokhobo's appointment was "manipulated and interfered with".

Hardly three months into the job, Mokhobo has already courted controversy.

She has attempted to parachute "matric-less" acting COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng into becoming a full COO by advertising the position with a shocking disclaimer that "matric was not a requirement for the job".

She again shot into news headlines this week when she suspended head of news Phil Molefe after the latter refused her demand to be sent a news diary on a daily basis. There are now allegations that she sought to interfere with newsroom editorial independence.

The staffers argue that if she indeed demanded to be given the news diary, it means she's in serious violation of the editorial policy, which is expected to protect against outside influences.

But SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago defends Mokhobo, saying if she has asked for the diary she did nothing wrong because she is, after all, the editor in-chief of the SABC.

"You can even check the CEO contract. It says exactly that," says Kganyago.

The latest SABC twist comes as Madonsela's office is probing Mokhobo's new-found SABC ally - Motsoeneng - who has risen to the second highest SABC position when he hardly has a matric certificate.

As Madonsela's net around the SABC shenanigans widens, Sunday World can reveal that the CEO is expected to come face-to-face with concerned board members who are questioning Molefe's suspension without their prior knowledge.

A special board sub-committee on news is gathering at the SABC headquarters tomorrow, where board members are expected to question Mokhobo about who gave her the authority to put Molefe on special leave, as the position of head of news is a board appointment.

For action to be taken against a news executive, the CEO requires a board resolution.

It is understood that some of the board members are prepared to "instruct her" to bring Molefe back as soon as possible.

Molefe is himself believed to be convinced that the CEO and Motsoeneng have been plotting against him for some time as there are allegedly some moves under way to replace him with board member Pippa Green.

The latter is known to be interested in the position as she had previously applied for it before it was given to Molefe.

Word in the SABC corridors is that Green has become close to Motsoeneng and she is said to be one of those who have strangely and spiritedly defended his "no matric status" at board meetings.

As a journalism academic, her alleged defence of Motsoeneng has left tongues wagging, especially as she is known to have gone on radio lamenting the lowering of standards in the industry.

Green has been named in correspondence to Madonsela as one of those who knew about Motsoeneng's controversial rise to power and yet still defended him.

Kganyago says all these allegations are based on speculation.

He says he was aware that SABC staff members have complained to Madonsela.

"It is known that the head of news, Phil Molefe, has been put on special leave pending the meeting with the CEO. This shows that there is a problem that they need to meet and solve," he said.

"But all those speculations about the suspension being politically motivated or linked to Julius Malema are false."

Green could not be reached for comment as her phone was off and she did not return our SMSes.

nmasungwinin@sundayworld.co.za

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Sat Dec 20 10:37:37 SAST 2014 ::

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