SABC Group Executive for Corporate Affairs Hlaudi Motsoeneng Picture: Itumeleng English/Independent Media
Parliament – A former South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) executive on Monday told MPs that executives at the public broadcaster feared former chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

Testifying in the parliamentary inquiry into the affairs of the broadcaster and its board, former group executive: human resources, Jabulani Mabaso, told MPs how Motsoeneng, who just on Monday had his most recent senior appointment as group executive for corporate affairs declared unlawful by the courts, had instilled fear in him and other executives.

"If you were to put it that way, yes, he is very powerful man, powerful if he cannot be called to order by the board," said Mabaso. Mabaso explained how Motsoeneng had been allowed to undermine various acting chief executive officers, and how he had barged into meetings demanding he be present, leaving MPs gobsmacked.

African National Congress MP Makhosi Khoza said it was "disturbing" to hear all the "brilliant" people with the "finest brains" testifying before the inquiry about Motsoeneng's power. "How all of this [people] allow this man without even a Matric to rein over the SABC. What is behind this?" she demanded.

Mabaso said executives were always at the mercy of the SABC board, who appeared divided, but in the end backed Motsoeneng. "The man himself [Motsoeneng] has said we overdose ourselves with education, but for me, honourable member, I will point everything towards the board.

"For me it is questionable for them not to stop this particular charades."

Mabaso said there was nothing the executive could do if the board was seen to be constantly backing Motsoeneng.

Mabaso confirmed that no vetting was done when Motsoeneng was appointed to various positions at the broadcaster.

In fact, former general manager for labour relations, Madiwe Nkosi, earlier testified that no executives at the SABC were vetted, despite the SABC being a national key point.

Four of the eight SABC journalists who were fired because they stood up to a new policy from Motsoeneng banning violent protests from being aired, and then reinstated, will testify later on Monday.