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Hlaudi ‘an embarrassment for the ANC’

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The chickens are coming home to roost. What you sow, you will harvest. Pile up the clichés: this is what is happening to the governing ANC right now.

The ANC in Parliament wants to disband the SABC Board tomorrow because it has embarrassed the party and the broadcaster.

But these board members were handpicked by the ANC caucus itself and appointed over other, more deserving candidates, as has happened several times the last decade or so.

There is a whole phalanx of functionaries that had been appointed by the ANC purely because it suited the party’s narrow interests who are now embarrassing the government and the country.

Loyalty to Zuma

One thinks of Berning Ntlemeza, head of the Hawks, who has been declared a dishounourable man by a court and is waging war against the national treasury.

Of Nomgcobo Jiba of the National Prosecuting Authority, who had been called even worse by more than one court and who has repeatedly kneecapped the NPA.

Of the now discredited new SARS boss, Tom Moyane, and his allegedly corrupt sidekick, Jonas Makwakwa.

Of the high commissioner in Singapore, drug smuggler and jailbird Hazel Ngobeni, and her counterpart in Australia, Sbu Ndebele, now facing serious corruption charges.

All these appointments have one thing in common: their blind loyalty to President Jacob Zuma. Like the most pathetic and embarrassing Cabinet ministers and deputy ministers: Mosebenzi Zwane, Des van Rooyen, Faith Muthambi, Bathabile Dlamini and Kebby Maphatsoe.

The ANC as a party is now discovering that what is in Zuma’s interest is seldom in the ANC’s interest.

The poster boy of this phenomenon is, of course, Hlaudi Motsoeneng of the SABC, that comical Mussolini Mini Me that had until very recently been defended enthusiastically by the same ANC parliamentary caucus.

Well. At least we should thank Hlaudi that his bizarre behaviour had turned the SABC issue into a proper crisis.

Hlaudi ‘a logical outcome’

There are many Hlaudis in our public life, they’re just not as narcissistic and in our faces as he is.

If you thought that Hlaudi was an aberration or that Zuma was solely responsible for this phenomenon, you’re mistaken.

At the SABC itself Hlaudi is simply a logical outcome of a process that had started in the late 1990s.

Thabo Mbeki sent an Umkhonto we Sizwe commissar, Snuki Zikalala, to end the short era of professional journalism of a proper public broadcaster since 1994 under the leadership of Zwelakhe Sisulu.

I was there. I experience this process first hand. In 1999 I was Zikalala’s first trophy hunt when I was fired unceremoniously for “disrespecting SABC leadership”. (Actually, this charge had much substance.

This abuse of power and process was condemned strongly by the media, civil society and political parties and it led to Zikalala being fired, of course with a generous golden handshake.

But after the temperature had cooled down, Zikalala was reappointed after pressure from Mbeki’s office and he continued his destructive, Stalinist campaign with new vigour. Many senior journalists were driven away.

Mbeki wanted a state rather than a public broadcaster, he wanted a corporation loyal only to his party and his office, and he got it.

But Zikalala’s career ended with Mbeki’s – Zikalala once reportedly said that when the ANC elected Zuma, they elected a monkey. Of course, as is still the practice, Zikalala got another generous golden handshake and rode into the sunset to embark on a business career.

Zuma took over the presidency and the interference in the SABC continued – only, as is typical of the Zuma style, in a more crude and blatant fashion.

Zikalala and Co made room for Hlaudi and Co.

A few years ago the journalists at the SABC nominated me as a candidate for the new SABC board and I was supported by all the opposition parties.

ANC crossing the line

I went through all the motions before the portfolio committee in Parliament and found the farce quite entertaining.

ANC MPs walked into the interview room with prepared dossiers on my history, copies of what I had written in columns and books and allegations by Zikalala and his sidekicks. Their job was simple: keep this “enemy of the ANC” out. Shame, some of them were old friends who apologised while they were executing the hatchet job.

Fortunately they were successful.

It is standard practice in any democracy for the governing party to look after its own interests.

But it may not be against the national interest, and the ANC has crossed this line many, many times.

It has come back to bite them. And the rest of us.

[Source: News24]
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