Hlaudi hanged by his own tongue

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He dodged damning findings by the public protector and a R10-million bonus scandal, but it was a bizarre press conference that eventually brought down former SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

Former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng. File photo.
Picture: ALON SKUY

Motsoeneng was officially fired from the public broadcaster yesterday, following an external disciplinary hearing in which he was found guilty of misconduct for comments he made at an April 19 media briefing, when he lashed out at the SABC interim board and especially at Krish Naidoo, who he called a “sell-out”.

Motsoeneng was unhappy the board planned to halt his 90% local content policy.

At the time of the April media conference, Motsoeneng was already suspended because of findings made by the public protector relating to his qualifications.

Yesterday, interim chairman of the board Khanyisile Kweyama laid out the reasons for Motsoeneng’s dismissal and announced several other changes at the broadcaster.

“They [the reasons] were misconduct. They were bringing the SABC into disrepute and also the relationship breakdown between employer and the employee based on the statements he made about the SABC board, the ad hoc committee in parliament, as well as the judge who presided over some matters,” she said.

Kweyama announced several other changes, including dropping the SABC’s controversial policy banning the screening of violence in protests against the government which was implemented by Motsoeneng before the 2016 local government elections.

“Journalists are free to report on what they see fit,” Kweyama said

She said the board had scrapped the controversial New Age Business Breakfast partnership, which parliament was told was costing the SABC millions, while the Gupta-owned newspaper coined it.

“It is normally an 11-month notice period but we have already started engaging The New Age on cancelling the contract sooner.”

Another contract that would be halted was the LornaVision contract.

The Times previously reported that the SABC’s suspended CEO James Aguma had authorised irregular payments of R10-million to auditing firm PwC and awarded a lucrative contract to debt-collection company LornaVision without inviting tenders. LornaVision and PwC were flagged in the parliamentary report.

Kweyama said the LornaVision contract had been handed over to the Special Investigation Unit.

“We believe Hlaudi should pay back the millions he received as bonuses for driving the SABC into the ground,” said Right2Know spokesman Murray Hunter.

Contacted for comment, Motsoeneng said he has not yet been informed about the outcomes of the disciplinary hearing and he would only be in a position to comment once he has documents in front of him.

”I’m always okay. I can’t comment on that because I don’t have the information in front of me. Up until I get the papers, I can’t comment. You are very lucky … because you were able to get information before me. I need to read the papers and apply my mind so how do I apply my mind if I don’t have the papers in front of me,” said Motsoeneng.

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