*Editors note: The headline was changed to reflect that the 'captured hotel' claim was made by Hlaudi Motsoeneng and not Mzwanele “Jimmy” Manyi.
Hlaudi Motsoeneng attacked the ANC chief whip, Jackson Mthembu, yesterday, with allegations that he tried to “capture” him.
But Hlaudi isn’t to be captured, said Motsoeneng.
On Thursday morning, a day after Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan captured the country’s attention with the delivery of his medium-term budget statement, a business breakfast was hosted by the Guptas’ newspaper, The New Age, and the SABC.
Motsoeneng, former chief operating officer of the SABC; James Aguma, acting chief executive of the SABC, Andile Mngxitama, leader of the national-socialist organisation Black First Land First; and Mzwanele “Jimmy” Manyi, founding member of the new organisation Decolonisation Foundation, spoke about state capture.
Mngxitama and Manyi are both vocal critics of Gordhan, and sing the Guptas’ praises.
In true Motsoeneng style, he climbed into Mthembu over the ANC parliamentary caucus’s position on the challenges at the SABC – Parliament instituted an inquiry into the fitness of the board members to lead the public broadcaster.
The “last straw”, according to Mthembu, was when Motsoeneng was appointed as the public broadcaster’s corporate head after the courts found he was not fit for the post of SABC chief operating officer.
“I want to talk about capture,” Motsoeneng said. “You see, even the way that some of the board was appointed ... I have a serious problem. Because they are captured by certain politicians. The reason why you hear SABC people making a noise, that process of the portfolio committee appointing board members ...it is wrong!
“It must stop. Because these people they serve politicians when they should serve the SABC. Even those who resigned. They resigned because someone captured them from politics,” he said, to laughter from the audience.
He was referring to the portfolio committee on communication’s meeting earlier this month, at which it was decided to institute the inquiry into the SABC and two board members, Krish Naidoo and Vusi Mavusa, resigned.
And Jackson Mthembu is the last person who should be talking about the SABC, Motsoeneng said to loud applause.
He added: “Jackson Mthembu will know that I met him at a certain hotel, where maybe he wanted to capture me. But nobody can capture me. He knows that ...
“They have changed the people who have supported the SABC in that portfolio committee. We say that they have already taken a view that the SABC board was wrong. We say that process is flawed. We will challenge it, even in court,” he said to more applause.
SABC presenter Peter Ndoro, who chaired the debate, asked whether Mthembu had an interest in the SABC.
Motsoeneng replied, yes, he had an interest in the SABC.
When pressed about his interest, Motsoeneng said: “No, no. I will talk at the right time. If he is still talking too much, I will reveal the information.”
Mngxitama said his organisation was inspired by Motsoeneng’s “leadership”.
Responding today, Mthembu said that he had sought legal advice on whether Motsoeneng’s public allegations were in violation of his personal rights and if legal recourse, including suing for defamation, was a viable option.
“The office of the ANC chief whip is disturbed by the defamatory allegations attributed to Hlaudi Motsoeneng, which suggest improper motives on the ANC chief whip regarding his articulation of the ANC parliamentary caucus’s position on the challenges at the SABC,” said a statement issued by Moloto Mothapo, Mthembu’s spokesperson.
“The chief whip states for the record that he has never at any point held any meeting with Motsoeneng, certainly not at any location, including the so-called ‘captured hotel’, as claimed by him.”
Mthembu said his only interest regarding the SABC was to ensure a functional, efficient and well-managed public broadcaster that executes its public service mandate.
“The personal attacks, regrettably, are a testimony to the crisis at the SABC and indicate the lengths Motsoeneng would go to flagrantly abuse the public broadcaster’s platforms to maliciously pursue those he regards as detractors. The chief whip has nothing to hide.”
Mthembu made headlines on Sunday after an interview with City Press in which he said the entire ANC national executive committee should resign.