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SABC’s economics editor Thandeka Gqubule-Mbeki resigns in protest

SABC economics editor Thandeka Gqubule-Mbeki. Picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives

SABC economics editor Thandeka Gqubule-Mbeki. Picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published Apr 30, 2021


Johannesburg - SABC economics editor Thandeka Gqubule-Mbeki has resigned in protest over what she alleges are numerous governance and policy breaches and tolerance for outright fraud and corruption at the state broadcaster.

Earlier this month, the SABC laid a charge of misconduct against Gqubule-Mbeki. The charge includes intimidation of a colleague, offensive language and behaviour and violating the Public Management Act.

Gqubule-Mbeki, who is one of the eight SABC journalists who were fired after openly opposing editorial changes at the public broadcaster and later reinstated, was honoured with the Guardian of Governance Award by the Institute of Auditors in 2017.

In a scathing letter on Thursday, Gqubule-Mbeki said she became a victim of a witch hunt after raising concerns about the decimation of the national broadcaster.

“I will be going to my procedural, unjust hearing on bogus outrageous and impossible charges. I declare that I intimidated no one and I have been a good steward of public funds,” she said.

Gqubule-Mbeki said she could ill afford to be associated with gross violations of policies at the SABC.

“I resign in protest against the numerous governance, policy breaches and tolerance for outright fraud and corruption,” Gqubule-Mbeki said.

SABC spokesperson Mmoni Seapolelo said the public broadcaster had yet to receive Gqubule-Mbeki’s resignation.

“The SABC can confirm that there are processes to be followed in a case where an employee wishes to resign and, at this stage, the corporation has not been served with a resignation letter by Ms Gqubule,” Seapolelo said.

Gqubule-Mbeki said she was protesting against SABC journalists being coerced into putting on air people who had paid for advertising and other space, thus bending the mandate of public broadcasting the world over which required public broadcasters to have an arm’s length relationship with the state and commercial interests.

“Public broadcasting should promote universal access to the airwaves, whether you have money or not. The increasing commodification of public broadcasting is unconscionable for this is supposed to be a public good,” said Gqubule-Mbeki.

She accused the SABC of shirking its African language obligations as stated in Section 6 of the South African Constitution.

Gqubule-Mbeki blamed the SABC for the victimisation of many people through the Section 189 process that “has led to a night of long knives at the public broadcaster, replete with trumped-up bogus charges, false accusations, outrageous instances of cruelty and a climate of fear and foreboding”.

At the end of March, the SABC let go of 621 employees after the conclusion of a Section 189 process. Gqubule-Mbeki said she had approached the courts under the Protected Disclosures Act, to seek damages and other remedies afforded under the legislation.

Last year, the EFF was ordered to apologise to Gqubule-Mbeki and veteran journalist Anton Harber after its spokesperson, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, accused them of doing the work of the apartheid government’s Stratcom, short for strategic communications.

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