Sat Oct 21 12:39:02 SAST 2017

SABC board is failing the public

2012-04-08 12:31:56.0 | Sunday World Editorial |

FOR a collective charged with steering an ailing public broadcaster out of stormy seas, the current SABC board appears to be faring no better than a headless chicken.

Claims of maladministration and corruption continue to dog the board's watch, painting a gloomy picture of failure to staunch financial bleeding at the SABC.

This week, the SABC was rocked by news of its former and current senior staffers having lodged a complaint with the Public Protector over acting chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng. Their complaints include maladministration, corruption, board collusion, unprocedural salary increments as well as his suspect academic credentials.

The board is under pressure to review his appointment due to his lack of a matric and top management experience.

All these controversies put the board in a bad light, particularly over its unshakeable backing of Motsoeneng.

Of intrigue is constant allusions to Motsoeneng's affinity to the top ANC brass, especially President Jacob Zuma, something that makes him untouchable. The presidency, however, denies this.

In spite of presidential denials, the spectre of a hidden, powerful hand guiding Motsoeneng's fortunes is self-evident. Giving credence to this is the board's willingness to forego established business practice to justify the appointment.

The most recent example is its insistence - through board member Patricia Makesha - that "it's not only about having a (matric) certificate, it's also about passion and drive."

This illustrates the extent to which the board is prepared to dig in its heels just to protect him.

By turning to the Public Protector, disgruntled SABC staff are sending a clear signal that they have lost confidence in the board's capacity to run the corporation.

Their dossier claims not only governance lapses but also buffoonery no upstanding board should countenance. This calls the board's integrity into question. Why would board members want to risk their reputations for this man?

The answer lies in the power of the hidden hand which looms large over the SABC.

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