News / South Africa

Gosebo Mathope
3 minute read
16 Mar 2018
11:57 am

SABC News employees petition board to remove ‘enforcers’

Gosebo Mathope

The board chairperson is unhappy that some employees resistant to change are raising 'petty issues' when they must earn their salaries.

SABC employees embarked on strike on Thursday morning to press for salary hikes. Picture: Getrude Makhafola/ANA

About 126 SABC News staff members have stated in a petition addressed to the board lamenting that despite the “achievements” of the parliamentary ad-hoc held in 2016, the public broadcaster’s news division is still packed with “enforcers”.

“The SABC’s newsroom is still being led by enforcers, some of whom continue to disregard the changed editorial environment that calls for conscience and professionalism, such as Ms Sophie Mokoena’s unethical instruction to staff,” the petition reads.

Hannes du Buisson, spokesperson for Broadcasting, Electronic, Media & Allied Workers Union (Bemawu), told The Citizen the trade union was ticked off with the SABC board as veteran journalists and members of the news subcommittee Mathata Tsedu and John Mattison received the petition on the 12th of February and inaction followed.

“We are not happy with the board at all. The issues raised in the petition should have been addressed by the board. They sat on the memorandum. It’s only after we had a meeting with the [acting] CEP [Nomsa Philiso] yesterday that she started coordinating diary meetings,” said Du Buisson.

In the petition, employees are aggrieved that “political interference continues, the latest known having been reported to the board recently without response or action against the implicated party. Instead, those who sought to report it are portrayed as liars”.

“We demand the immediate removal of the current compromised presidential corps team and the institution of an editorially independent team that represents the interest of the SABC as the voice of society, and not embed itself with the presidency,” the staff members wrote.

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They also claim that “other than James Aguma and Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the SABC continues to employ disgraced and discredited executives who propped up the previous regime”.

“These people, such as Theresa Geldenhuys, who has been promoted to Head of Governance and Compliance, were found liable for serious transgressions by the ad-hoc committee.”

“There is a re-emergence of reprisals against those who stood for the truth and for an independent public broadcaster. Victimisation of staff who stand for professional ethics continues. Here we cite the cases of David Magae, Boitumelo Korogo, Elvis Presslin, Mandisa Mazwi, Thandeka Gqubule, Phuthego Mojapele among others,” the petition detailed.

“Enforcers coming from previous regime must be removed, whilst they are still there people think the SABC is still captured. There must be a proper investigation, and people must know. If they are implicated, which we believe is the case, must be removed,” Du Buisson said.

SABC board chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini acknowledged that a petition was received on February 12, and had only been acted on yesterday, as per Bemawu’s claim.

“I was at the office yesterday. We did not implement demands in the petition as a board because management needs to work on it first. The board must allow management to run the organisation. We are there to provide oversight, issues beyond their mandate it can be escalated.  Management must deal with the matter. My job is to hold them accountable for efficiency and delivery.

“If we interrupt it will become a problem. I need the media to help us because there are people who are raising petty changes. Staff members must deliver on what they are employed to do. When you are driving change, there will some people who will be unhappy. People must add value and earn their salaries,” said Makhathini.