Johannesburg - In a no-holds-barred media briefing in Joburg on Wednesday, a bullish Hlaudi Motsoeneng tore into the interim board chaired by businesswoman Khanyisile Kweyama, saying it was conflicted and lacked integrity.
He also used the platform to endorse former AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma to succeed President Zuma in December.
But Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo told The Star on Wednesday night that the board had been appointed by Zuma himself.
“The board was properly and legally appointed by the president. I endorsed it. They are hard at work as they have a short span of time to do their work. The board, for all intents and purposes, will be here for six months.”
She described the board members, including veteran journalists Mathatha Tsedu and John Matisonn, former deputy chief of staff at the AU Commission, Febe Potgieter-Gqubule, and attorney Krish Naidoo, as professionals who should be given the opportunity to prove themselves.
The minister also called on people to give the board the benefit of the doubt and came out against those casting aspersions on the board, without having tested its integrity.
“I’m working with the board and I will give it all support,” she added.
One of the immediate tasks of the board was to stabilise the financial troubles, some of which were incurred during Motsoeneng’s tenure as chief operations officer.
The Parliamentary committee recommended that further investigations be instituted into the public broadcaster’s finances after it emerged during the hearing that the previous board had failed to act to prevent irregular expenditure which amounted to R5billion over the past few years.
On Wednesday night, Motsoeneng did not back down when asked if he was not digging his own grave with his comments on the board.
“In South Africa we have justice and fairness. I decide my future. I can rule South Africa, there’s no doubt about it. The SABC is not the alpha and omega for me. I’m stress-free, I’m enjoying life.”
Earlier, Motsoeneng called for the SABC board to be appointed by ordinary citizens and not Parliament and said it should be chaired by a retired judge.
“They are conflicted, but I have never recommended for them to be disbanded. They should be vetted. I don’t care who serves on the board, but they should do the basics such as vetting.”
Motsoeneng alleged the board had never been vetted and that Naidoo should not have been appointed to serve on it. Naidoo and Vusi Mavuso resigned as board members in Parliament in October.
Motsoeneng described Naidoo as a “sellout” who lied under oath in Parliament during the inquiry, which looked into the SABC board’s fitness to hold office. He claimed he had been party to all the decisions they had taken as the previous board.
He dismissed the ad hoc committee as a political witch-hunt, saying: “How can Krish Naidoo be a board member? He is not trustworthy, he’s not credible He’s a liar.”
He stated matter of factly that the ad hoc committee report’s recommendations would not affect him because he had never been invited by the committee to make submissions in Parliament.
“The ad hoc committee caused havoc. I was never invited to Parliament. They said one man took all the decisions, that means I’m powerful, man!
“What’s wrong if I won the debates in our discussions as the board?” Motsoeneng asked, affirming that he was still an SABC employee.
SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said they had watched Motsoeneng’s media briefing and had taken a decision that “we are not going to respond to any of the issues raised there. Mr Motsoeneng is still an employee of the SABC”.
He added: “We will deal with him like we deal with all employees of the organisation. That’s the position of the organisation. We never talk to employees in the public space. We will talk to him directly.”
Kganyago said the date for Motsoeneng’s disciplinary hearing would be set by the interim board once all the stakeholders had been consulted.