The SABC's acting chief operating officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, remains in his position despite having been removed by the previous board. File photo: Tiro Ramatlhatse

Johannesburg - The DA has called on SABC board chairman Dr Ben Ngubane to sanction the corporation’s acting chief operating officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, for ordering that the debt-crippled organisation spend millions it did not have hiring surplus employees.

But SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago dismissed the official opposition on Thursday for publicly making “general statements without all the facts”, rather than seeking clarity from the SABC.

The Communications Workers Union and the Creative Workers Union of SA also defended Motsoeneng, saying he was under attack from critics with “selfish and right-wing” motives for doing a good job in transforming and stabilising the SABC.

Hours after The Star reported on Thursday that Motsoeneng had issued an instruction through an internal memo on November 7, despite a protest from his acting chief financial officer, Tian Olivier, DA communications spokesman Marian Shinn urged Ngubane to say what action he would take against Motsoeneng.

Shinn said that by ordering TV News management to convert freelancers into permanent staff, Motsoeneng may have contravened the public loan agreement with the Treasury.

The agreement, which underpinned the SABC’s turnaround strategy, was entered into after Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan signed sureties to secure the corporation a R1 billion bailout loan from a private bank in 2009.

The public broadcaster desperately needed the cash to save it from its R800 million deficit.

“One of the terms of the strategy to turn around the debt- and corruption-ridden corporation is a significant reduction in head count, not an expansion of staff,” Shinn said.

The Star