Deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, who heads the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA).

Johannesburg - SABC board chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini has told the Zondo commission that the SABC’s mandate as a public broadcaster has been compromised over prolonged years of mismanagement and lack of government support. 

Makhathini was testifying at the commission’s investigation into state capture at the SABC. 

He was appointed as board chairperson in 2017 and saw a number of his fellow board members resign last year. 

Makhathini spoke frankly about the financial challenges facing the broadcaster which led to its board considering retrenchments - which were later halted at the request of Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams. 

He said the SABC had failed, due to financial constraints, to live up to its mandate of providing a platform for community involvement and content that reflects that rich background of South Africa. 

Makhathini was part of the board appointed after the SABC had faced years of mismanagement which culminated in the removal of former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng who was largely blamed for the challenges facing the organisation. 

Motsoeneng brought massive changes to the organisation’s mandate in providing news and was accused of interfering with editorial independence. He also purged several senior staff while promoting those that were loyal to him. 

Makhatini told the commission that state capture manifested itself at state-owned enterprises as many people with integrity were victimized and pushed. 

He said the most concerning issue was that those with integrity were replaced under the guise of “transformation”

“My understanding of how capture has materialised or happened in most of these SOEs, certainly credible competent experienced people of integrity get victimised, they get pushed out and frustrated. They get frustrated in several ways. What has resulted in this commission doing the work that is doing is still a reality for us,” he said. 

 “We are still living under those circumstances where you worry about your own safety for just trying to do what is right. And what is the most frustrating things, at times, they will cover some of these things as 'transformation'.”

"They will label you as somebody who is against transformation when they're hiding corruption under transformation or they will label you as someone who is 'gender insensitive', just because they want to cover certain things, using gender and transformation,” Makhathini said. 

He told the commission that the board was set on carrying out the turn-around strategy to try and save the public broadcaster. 

On Tuesday, SABC chief executive officer Madoda Mxakwe and the head of news Phathiswa Magopeni will testify. 

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