Former SABC chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s flamboyant press conference this morning “brought the SABC into disrepute” and was grounds for his dismissal.
This was said by the Democratic Alliance’s Phumzile van Damme, who added that while Motsoeneng still earned a R350 000-a-month salary during his suspension, he was still an employee of the SABC and had hosted the press conference without its permission.
Motsoeneng called the controversial event to address various issues at the SABC including ad-hoc committee recommendations and the 90% local content policy implementation.
Held at the Garden Court Hotel in Milpark, Johannesburg, the room was bursting at its seams.
Two free-standing banners with Motsoeneng’s face stood in the hotel foyer, with #FriendsOfHlaudi and #HandsOffHlaudi written in large lettering.
Inside, local artists banded together in support of the former broadcasting head, whom is alleged to still have some influence on the operations at the SABC.
“Viva Hlaudi Viva!” was said in unison, as the artists pledged their allegiance for the former chief operations officer.
Musicians of South Africa Association president Tebogo Sithathu said that as an organisation they fully support Motsoeneng.
“We stand by him 100%. He cares about the local artists,” Sithathu said.
Motsoeneng is serving a suspension until the outcome of the disciplinary process has been concluded.
“I am not at the SABC, I am sitting at home relaxing,” Motsoeneng said as he explained his current “role” to the media.
He didn’t directly address the issues as put on the invitation that was sent out to the media yesterday.
These included the following:
1. His response to the parliamentary ad hoc committee recommendations;
2.The financial state at the SABC from 2012-2016;
3. 90% local content;
4. Security vetting for SABC staff;
5. Multichoice contract;
6. The ruling of the Labour Court; and
7. The new SABC board members.
On the policy of implementing 90% local content on SABC channels, Motsoeneng reiterated the need for this in order to boost the scope of local artists and content.
“I don’t know where people get that the SABC ratings are dropping. Where is the research to prove this?” he asked as he referred to the dwindling viewership numbers reported by the SABC since the implementation of the policy.
“We need transformation, and it is not just for black people. It is for white people as well,” he said.
Motsoeneng was upbeat about his impending disciplinary hearing.
“I am excited about the disciplinary hearing. I will have my chance to respond to all the allegations,” he said.
Motsoeneng was on top form with his usual banter – “there is only one Motsoeneng,” and “they don’t have that thing to get rid of me,” he said.
He did, however, raise a few eyebrows when he told the artists of South Africa as the SABC live streamed the event that he had “secure money” in order to ensure that artists are still able to produce music and that he would help fund them.
The interim SABC board, which has Krish Naidoo on it, garnered much criticism from Motsoeneng after Naidoo tendered his resignation in October last year.
The recommendations of five members of the board were put forward by parliamentary MPs.
“Let me tell you about Krish. When I used to win all the awards at the SABC he used to be the first to congratulate me. Now he sits in Parliament and speaks against me,” he said.
His supporters also called for the fall of Krish Naidoo.
“Krish Naidoo must voe***k!*” and “he is a sell-out” were shouted out.
Meanwhile Van Damme said that Motsoeneng’s press conference was grounds for dismissal on the basis that “he has breached the SABC code of conduct”.
“The interim board must now promptly terminate his employment and rid the SABC of the man responsible for the deep institutional rot at the public broadcaster,” Van Damme said this afternoon.
“Hosting a press conference, as an SABC employee, without permission from the SABC board, or its management, constitutes a deliberate effort to undermine the SABC and to cause negative reporting of the various efforts to steer the SABC to calm waters,” she said.