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SABC's axed COO back after 3 days

2013-03-04 13:58
Cape Town - The SABC's Hlaudi Motsoeneng has been reinstated as acting chief operating officer (COO) - the South African public broadcaster's second highest executive position - just three days after he was removed from the post.

In a shocking turn of events Motsoeneng, who was removed by the SABC board on Tuesday 25 February with "immediate effect" as acting COO, is holding the position again.

The current twist is turning into the biggest and most embarrassing public spectacle yet at the beleaguered public broadcaster, which continues to trudge from scandal to scandal.

SABC not responding to media enquiries

Motsoeneng, who does not have a matric certificate, was removed and replaced by Mike Siluma as the new acting COO at the SABC. Siluma promptly quit on Friday.

The SABC board which was scheduled to appear before parliament's portfolio committee on communications cancelled the meeting, although SABC board members were in Cape Town.

The SABC has not responded to media enquiries as to why Siluma suddenly resigned, why Motsoeneng is suddenly back as acting COO, or why the SABC board appointed someone in an acting COO capacity who then resigned three days later.

The latest shocker - possibly the biggest executive gaffe yet in the history of the SABC - is already seeing South Africa's TV industry, used to insane shenanigans at the struggling public broadcaster, gasping at the latest surprise development at the self-evident executive circus which the broadcaster's upper echelon of power has become.

Dismay at continued SABC instability

The SOS Coalition, a public pressure group representing a vast number of the biggest industry stakeholders in South Africa's public broadcasting sphere including trade unions, federations, media and academic institutes and all major film and TV production organisations, says it is "concerned, and frankly dismayed about the continued instabilities at board level and executive level of the SABC".

"We've seen seven non-executive directors come and go in the space of three years, have not had a solid and permanent top three in an acting capacity in as long, and recently, a visibly divided SABC board," the SOS Coalition recently said in a statement.

"This is an untenable situation for any organisation, least of all  a public utility that has been mired in scandal after scandal like the SABC.

"We want an SABC that works and an SABC that is fundamentally premised on stable, visionary, skilled and experienced leadership. When will we begin to see this from the SABC?" asks the SOS Coalition.

New SABC restructuring looming

Meanwhile new restructuring is looming for the struggling South African public broadcaster, the minister of finance, Pravin Gordhan said last week in his budget speech delivered in parliament.

Gordhan said restructuring is coming in the year to all state supported public enterprises who are not performing and bleeding cash, such as the SABC.

He said that "some form of restructuring" is coming for all loss-making entities mired in trouble with dysfunctional boards who are not adequately co-ordinating with the government and who are rocked by ongoing management instability.

The SABC started 2013 with its three TV channels all gaining new acting channel heads, and the person above all three looking after SABC television is also new in that position.

Leo Manne, formerly the channel head of SABC1, is now the general manager for television channels at the SABC.

Sam Mpherwane, previously the acting programming manager at SABC1 is now the new acting head of the channel.

At SABC2, Pulane Tshabalana is acting channel head, while Lefa Afrika, previously the programming manager, is now the new acting SABC3 channel head after the unexpected departure last month of Ed Worster who went on early retirement.
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