8411 2010.6.18 Flags and patriotism at the SABC, Auckland Park, Joburg. Picture: Cara Viereckl

Johannesburg - Former SABC news and current affairs boss Phil Molefe was paid a R2.4-million golden handshake when he left the public broadcaster in May.

This week, Communications Minister Yunus Carrim confirmed that Molefe was paid out for the remaining two years of his contract after falling out with SABC chief executive Lulama Mokhobo for flighting an extensive television interview with Economic Freedom Fighters leader and ex-ANC Youth League president Julius Malema.

Molefe’s five-year contract was due to end in June 2015.

Carrim also revealed that Molefe was paid nearly R2.7m to stay at home between April last year and May, when the SABC paid out the remainder of his contract.

The public broadcaster also paid about R1.9m to fight Molefe at the Johannesburg High Court and his pending Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) case.

According to Carrim, the SABC is waiting for set-down dates for the SCA matter.

Carrim revealed the details of Molefe’s settlement in a Parliamentary reply to Cope MP Juli Killian.

Last month, SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago told The Sunday Independent that details of the transaction between Molefe and the public broadcaster were confidential. “This is a matter between employer and employee,” Kganyago said.

Molefe, who was unavailable for comment this week, was granted leave to appeal by Johannesburg High Court judge Sherise Weiner in February after his lawyers agreed with the SABC that the legal tussle “warrants the SCA”.

He has continuously defended the March 2012 Malema interview on SABC1’s Sunday Live, saying the decision was justified because “audience ratings reached a peak last achieved more than three years ago”.

At the time, SABC chief executive Lulama Mokhobo complained that the ANC was not present during the hour-long interview.

However, Molefe said the ANC was invited but declined because the disciplinary case against Malema was sub judice, according to papers the veteran journalist filed at the SCA.

Molefe said that “owing to mounting public interest, an editorial decision was taken to proceed with one guest (Malema)”.

He said at the time Malema’s troubles with the ruling party generated enormous public interest.

Molefe had asked a full high court Bench to grant him leave to appeal Weiner’s December 2012 judgment dismissal of his application to have his suspension and pending disciplinary hearing declared unlawful.

“The judgment is erroneous,” he said.

Meanwhile, suspended SABC chief financial officer Gugu Duda had been paid nearly R2.5m to stay at home by the end of July since her suspension in September last year.

Duda is not the only high earner at the SABC.

Despite Mokhobo leading the SABC to the worst possible audit finding, she was paid over R4m in the year up to March.

Mokhobo’s pay cheque includes a basic salary of over R2.6m, R960 000 in expenses and allowances, as well as a R430 000 contribution to her pension fund and medical aid.

Appointed in January last year, Mokhobo took over from her predecessor Molefe.

Controversial acting chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng was paid about R2.5m including a R1.6m basic salary, R650 000 in expenses and allowances, and about R270 000 in pension fund and medical aid contributions.

Kganyago said the COO position would be filled permanently only when the SABC settles the long-running court battle with its former executive Mvuzo Mbebe is finalised.

Mbebe was recommended for the COO in July 2007 by the SABC board under Eddie Funde.

A new board under then chairperson Khanyi Mkhonza overturned Mbebe’s appointment, prompting him to interdict the SABC against filling the vacancy pending a review of Funde’s recommendation.

One of the six executives appointed in June has already left the SABC. Zwelibanzi Mthembu, now former head of strategy, resigned a few weeks after joining the public broadcaster. - The Sunday Independent