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SABC executive purge ‘has cost more than R42m’

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The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) paid executives just more than R42.6m in golden handshakes over the past six years, Communications Minister Faith Muthambi has revealed.

This is likely to raise more questions about the troubled broadcaster’s stability. The SABC has faced numerous issues in recent times, including acute financial, personnel and management problems.

In a reply to a Parliamentary question by the Democratic Alliance (DA) this week, Ms Muthambi revealed that the golden handshakes were paid out to, among others, former SABC CEOs Dali Mpofu, Lulama Mokhobo and Solly Mokoetle who received R13.2m, R5.6m and R3.8m respectively. Former head of news Phil Molefe was paid out R4.9m, while former acting chief operating officer Christine Mampane walked away with R4.3m. Axed SABC executive Phumelele Ntombela-Nzimande, the wife of Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, was paid R2.6m as part of an agreement to terminate her contract.

“In virtually all of these cases, the executives receiving the payouts were purged for political reasons,” DA communications spokesman and MP Gavin Davis said on Thursday.

“As with other public entities, SABC executives are hired on the basis of their perceived loyalty to the dominant faction of the ANC instead of their ability to do the job. When deployed cadres fall out of political favour, they get dumped with a massive payout to soften the landing.

“This constant churn of deployed cadres is the reason why the SABC lurches from one crisis to the next,” Mr Davis said.

The revelation of the huge payouts by the public broadcaster comes a day before the SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s appeal against the Western Cape High Court order that he be suspended pending a disciplinary inquiry, is heard in the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein. Mr Motsoeneng has been accused of “purging” senior staff, which has cost the broadcaster millions of rand in payouts.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela last year released a report that established that Mr Motsoeneng’s salary had increased from R1.5m to R2.4m in one year, and that he had lied about his academic qualifications and had purged senior staff.

The public protector recommended that Mr Motsoeneng, who was acting chief operating officer at the time, be suspended pending a disciplinary inquiry. But he remained in his position and no disciplinary action was taken. The DA then lodged an application with the high court. Ms Muthambi last year endorsed Mr Motsoeneng’s appointment as the permanent chief operating officer.

Mr Motsoeneng’s lawyers will argue in the Supreme Court of Appeal that the courts should have no say over how the SABC handles the allegations against him. BD Live

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