Johannesburg – At the launch event of the expansion of the SABC News channel's footprint into the rest of Africa the SABC's chief operating officer (COO), Hlaudi Motsoeneng, took to the podium to slam South African journalism and journalists.
He threatened that dissenting and disloyal SABC workers will be rooted out, saying that the SABC is doing very well and that the SABC is committed to "positive stories".
As guests drank champagne while the wine flowed at the gold-plated launch event, Hlaudi Motsoeneng once again berated South African journalists and said they are misleading the country, and that the SABC isn't going to report "propaganda about negative stories".
The SABC was celebrating the expansion of the footprint of the public broadcaster's 24-hour TV news channel, SABC News (DStv 404), into the rest of Africa.
SABC News was launched in August 2013 on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform as part of a controversial two channel deal and the SABC's second try at a 24-hour news channel since its first version, SABC News International, folded in March 2010 after three years and a loss of millions of rands.
The SABC's launch event held at Midrand in Johannesburg where the SABC choir sang, was attended by president Jacob Zuma, who was flanked at table 1 by minister of communications, Faith Muthambi and Hlaudi Motsoeneng – all three of whom kept leaning in and chatting excitedly with each other all through the hour and a half long event.
Other guests spotted included president of the Pan African parliament, Bethel Amadi; acting SABC board chairperson, Prof Mbulaheni Maghuve; the SABC's head of news Jimi Matthews; Veronah Duwarkah, the SABC's group executive in charge of television; Sophie Mokoena, SABC News' foreign news editor, and the few SABC board members who are left following the communication minister's purge of the board earlier this year.
Hlaudi: SA journalists deal with propaganda
Two weeks after a bizarre speech at the launch of the SABC's rerun channel, SABC Encore (DStv 156) on DStv, Hlaudi Motsoeneng once again ran to the podium to deliver another eyebrow-raising speech.
Motsoeneng is currently embroiled in a lengthy court battle after the high court twice ordered that he be suspended. He is appealing the judgment again.
"SABC, we are different from other media house," said Hlaudi Motsoeneng. "When we report about the news, we are not apologetic about positive stories."
Then, as he did last year, Motsoeneng again slammed South African journalism with generalisations.
"Our own journalists, they deal with propaganda. When you go abroad, most journalists they don't write bad about their country. But when you come to South Africa, and some of the African countries, our own journalists talk very bad about their own country," said Hlaudi Motsoeneng.
"They don't educate and inform people. If you read, they are always misleading."
'You need a brain to think'
"Sometimes you need (a) brain," said Motsoeneng. "It's good to have all those qualifications, but you need brain to think. If you analyse when people write – and those people are having all these diplomas and degrees – I’m going to give you example.
"One of the papers said SABC has hid R500m. If you analyse that what they mean is the CFO of the SABC has hid R5m [sic], but if you check the books of the SABC, the reality is when we write off all those policies that are not relevant to the business, technically, the auditor-general they will pitch that equals to R500m.
"But when people talk it seems as if SABC has really hid money. But these are people who are very educated. I wonder, whether they think before they do, whatever they do. That is misleading the country.
"I still believe we need to report good stories; tell South African stories," said Hlaudi Motsoeneng. "SABC is doing very well, financially. We are stable. People who are just talking about SABC collapsing; they are going to collapse themselves. Not SABC."
‘We will deal with people who are not loyal’
"Even within the organisation, some of them are not loyal. But we are going to make sure that we deal with people who are not loyal," warned Hlaudi Motsoeneng of SABC workers who he said is sabotaging the public broadcaster. "We are not going to be apologetic."
"In short, the SABC is going to reflect Africa as Africa. We are not going to come with propaganda about negative stories, people killing each other as if we are killing each other."
"If there's no water in Soweto, if you are a good journalist, you will go to Orlando. There's no water in Orlando. But in Diepkloof, there's water. That is what we call balanced story," said Hlaudi Motsoeneng.
President Jacob Zuma said "we are not saying that the SABC News, channel 404, should ignore problems when they arise in the continent."
"What we are saying is that the public broadcaster should balance whatever stories of mayhem, with stories that also show that while there is disaster in one small corner of the continent, the majority there live a normal life."
"It should be stories that tell the full African story, and not the unbalanced, negative scripts that have become the order of the day for years," said president Zuma.
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