Over the last year, Hlaudi Mostoeneng has started to look less like a man in charge of a public broadcaster and more like the boogeyman from a 1980s horror film.
Like Jason Voorhees, Freddie Kruger and Michael Myers, just when everyone thinks it’s all over for Hlaudi, he comes roaring back to life even more determined and obnoxious than before.
Technically speaking, Motsoeneng shouldn’t even be a topic up for discussion right now. A (legally binding) recommendation from a report by outgoing Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, that he be removed for unjustifiably awarding himself and his cronies pay increases (she also found he lied about his matric, but frankly that’s the least of his crimes) wasn’t adhered to. Nor was a directive from by the Western Cape High Court to suspend him. He should be enjoying an early retirement.
But no, here we are, two years, and many scandals and farces later. Twice the Supreme Court of Appeal has effectively told the SABC to be rid of him. First in 2015 and again this Monday. Twice his reign has continued unchanged.
What will Motsoeneng be remembered for? Will it be the well-received decision to increase local content on SABC’s channels and radio stations? I think not. Had it not been for Motsoeneng’s presence we probably would not have seen the following:
- Call-ins being banned on a talk show on Metro FM.
- Current affairs programme, “On the Record with Vuyo Mvoko” being canned.
- A ban on violent protest footage and the matter going to the North Gauteng High Court and Icasa.
- The reading of newspaper headlines being banned on radio.
- The ban being overturned and the SABC being told to air violent protest footage again.
- “The Editors” show being canned on SAfm.
- Eight journalists being fired for speaking against the ban on protest footage.
- The case of the eight journalists going to the Labour Court.
- The SABC reportedly being in financial trouble.
- The recently failed “Thank You SABC” concert.
- The hijacking of Mduduzi “Mandoza” Tshabalala’s funeral to issue a lengthy tirade against his detractors (a really appropriate event to do such a thing, I’m sure you’ll agree).
The above doesn’t even cover all of what’s being going on under Hlaudi’s reign (we all know he’s been the one running things at the SABC, instead of former acting CEO and Jimi Matthews and news acting CEO, James Aguma).
If he weren’t there, perhaps we’d be talking about a less chaotic, politically-controlled SABC right now (not that it’s been the symbol of a well-run public broadcaster over the years). Maybe it would be one of the few entities under government offering a beacon of hope that things can still be run properly under the state’s watch in this country.
“The Public Broadcaster’s capture by self-glorifying cronies of President Zuma continues to distract from its core business,” the DA said two weeks ago about Motsoeneng and political interference at the SABC.
I think it’s minister of communications, Faith Muthambi, who is largely to blame for Motsoeneng’s continued presence at the SABC and his show of arrogance to boot. It is she who has hovered over and coddled him like a mother hen over her chicks.
She’s always there, at every turn, defending him, helping him launch court appeals, trying to assure the public that all is well at the SABC and that there’s nothing to worry about, refusing to meddle in the public broadcaster’s affairs when it was time to step in.
It reminds one of the typical mother of the school’s biggest bully, who refuses to discipline her son as she believes he’s the perfect angel, resulting in his continued reign of terror over other kids.
As it stands, Motsoeneng and mother hen Muthambi stand at a crossroads: do they again defy the Western Cape High Court ruling that he be suspended, or do they comply and we get rid of a huge thorn in our side (even if it’s temporary)? Protest groups R2K and the SOS Coalition are alread preparing for yet another march calling for the law to be enforced and the COO ejected next week – surely even they must be starting to tire of this TV comedy which has run several seasons past it’s entertainment value.
All I want to know is, why won’t Hlaudi just go away?