Former SABC CEO Lulama Mokhobo testified at the Zondo commission. Picture: Dumisani Dube/African News Agency (ANA)
Former SABC CEO Lulama Mokhobo testified at the Zondo commission. Picture: Dumisani Dube/African News Agency (ANA)

Zondo commission hears about two centres of power at SABC

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Feb 26, 2020

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Johannesburg - Former SABC CEO Lulama Mokhobo has told the Zondo commission about the hostility she faced at the public broadcaster because she would not agree with former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng. 

Mokhobo returned to the stand on Wednesday. 

She spoke about the toxic environment she experienced at the SABC while serving as its head and how Motsoeneng refused to understand that she was in charge. 

One of the big disagreements between the two related to the SABC’s 2013 negotiations with MultiChoice for a commercial agreement. 

The agreement offered the SABC a news channel on MultChoice’s DSTV platform. It also offered an entertainment channel and the organisation would receive R553 million over five years.

Mokhobo opposed the agreement because it included two clauses that mandate the SABC not to encrypt its broadcasts. 

Mostoeneng and former SABC board chairperson Ellen Tshabalala were in support of the deal. It was signed in July 2013 while Mokhobo was on leave. 

Mokhobo said she viewed Motsoeneng as a dangerous man and that she had encouraged for his removal as COO. 

"I felt a sense of urgency, he (Motsoeneng) was making it difficult for me to do my work by blocking staff from giving me certain documents. There were two centres of power one with the COO and the other with the CEO. The acting COO wanted me out of that organisation. In 2013, I had not been there for long and I was told that by August that I would be gone. There were a lot of attempts to discard me. 

"Eventually the board woke up to the fact that there was something wrong with the COO (Motsoeneng). There were some who knew that this man is not okay and was very dangerous. A decision was then taken to remove Motsoeneng but this was frustrated when it was found that he could not be removed as he was appointed by the communications minister Dina Pule. Once he was reappointed he continued with his disruptive ways,” she said. 

Mokhobo said there were attempts to remove her from her position because she would not agree to certain things that she found to be unlawful. 

This comment prompted the chairperson of the inquiry deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo to request that the commission's investigators find out how prevalent was this phenomenon of people being pushed out of state-owned enterprises because they would not pursue a certain agenda. 

"There are witnesses that have come to the commission and have said that there were attempts by certain people to remove from government entities and departments people who were not prepared to do wrong. It is necessary to explore the probability of these claims. One cannot get into the point of whether this was the case at the SABC without hearing if this was true,” he said. 

Mkhobo has concluded her testimony. 

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