Tuesday, July 19, 2016

SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng sees to it that all 8 suspended SABC journalists are fired without disciplinaries; news anchor Ivor Price resigns.

Where to begin with the trash-crush and crises-riddled demimonde that is the SABC?

SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng - as chief operating officer (COO) the boss over all operations of the SABC - has now seen to it that all 8 of the suspended SABC journalists, known as the #SABC8 are immediately fired.

1. All 8 were fired, without due process, without any disciplinary hearings, and with blatant disregard for South Africa's labour law and by only getting an email, simply for voicing their concern and another opinion to the draconian and famously matricless Hlaudi Motsoeneng's 26 May diktat that the SABC's SABC TV News division must censor news coverage of public protests and not show the destruction of property.

On Tuesday a day after the SABC outright fired Suna Venter (senior journalist), Foeta Krige (RSG executive editor), Jacques Steenkamp (senior investigative journalist) and Krivani Pillay (SAfm current affairs executive producer) with a letter from Sebolelo Ditlhakanyane, the SABC's head of news and actuality, the SABC also fired the other 4.

On Tuesday the SABC fired Busisiwe Ntuli (specialist producer for the investigative programme Special Assignment on SABC3), Lukhanyo Calata (a SABC journalist in Cape Town whose father Fort Calata was one of the Cradock Four anti-Apartheid struggle activists), and Thandeka Gqubule (economics editor) with dismissal letters.

Contributing editor Vuyo Mvoko as the 8th person of the #SABC8 group who spoke out against SABC censorship was a freelance journalist and the SABC terminated his contract.

The letters firing the other 4 SABC journalists were carbon copies of the firing letters of the first four, this one signed by Nyana Molete, the latest in a string of SABC news staffers filling the position as acting head of SABC News since everyone keeps quitting or getting fired.

"It is common cause that you have made it known to the SABC that you will continue to disrespect the SABC, your employer," reads the firing letter.

"It has now become clear to the SABC that you have no intention to refrain from your conduct of undermining the SABC and the authority of its management. In the premise your continued acts of misconduct have become intolerable. Your employment with the SABC is thus terminated with immediate effect."

2. The SABC TV News anchor Ivor Price resigned.
Ivor Price, a SABC TV News anchor on SABC2 who is also a presenter on the Afrikaans SABC radio station RSG, resigned, saying he could no longer remain silent, telling Netwerk24 in an open letter than Hlaudi Motsoeneng's "poisonous tentacles have infested the entire SABC."

"Even if Hlaudi Motsoeneng is fired tomorrow or resigns, it will take long for SABC journalists to get over the fear."

3. Political and other reaction - and those staying silent.
Meanwhile the minister of communications, Faith Muthambi, and a backer and ally of the controversial and famously matricless Hlaudi Motsoeneng, has remained completely silent, not saying or doing anything, and doing nothing to resolve the growing number of crises at the SABC.

The ANC political party when asked for comment over the SABC's firing of the 8 journalists, said "no comment".

The South African Communist Party (SACP) in a statement said the firing of the 8 SABC journalists who questioned the SABC's censorship decision was a "reflection of structurally deeper administrative and governance decay" at the SABC.

The Democratic Alliance political party who on Tuesday held a public protest at parliament said action must continue until the integrity of the SABC is restored. "The ANC are complicit in the complete breakdown of good governance at the SABC".

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) says in a statement it ts shocked by the firing of the 8 journalists without due process and deeply distressed over the ever-unfolding crisis at the SABC, saying it will possibly call on its members to stop paying their SABC TV licences.

"If the impasse at the SABC is not resolved without delay the IFP will again call on its rank and file to stop paying their TV licences as a form of protest."

The COPE political party says in a statement that the SABC is "an illegitimate institution overseen by an illegitimate COO".

COPE says it "urges South Africans to withhold their SABC TV licence fees" and is calling on "every advertiser to cancel with the SABC with immediate effect. Their failure to act appropriately will signify that they place no premium on freedom of expression and the rule of law".

The Organisation Against Tax Abuse (Outa) is called for an urgent investigation the non-existent Faith Muthambi into the SABC.

"By dismissing these journalists‚ the SABC's autocratic leadership will simply engender more fear and cause less inclusiveness to critical internal discussion and debate," says Outa.

The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) on Tuesday called for an urgent parliamentary meeting over the crisis-riddled SABC and its latest shame.

"Parliament is once again failing to exercise its constitutional responsibilities to hold the executive and the SABC board to account. The rebuke the National Assembly recently received from the Constitutional Court ruling in the Nkandla matter appears to have fallen on deaf ears," says Casac.

The Right2Know Campaign and SOS Coalition calls Hlaudi Motsoeneng a tyrant, saying the firing of the 8 SABC journalists was a "show trial" with "trumped-up and nonsensical charges".

"It is the sort of thing we now expect under the tyranny of COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng."

"It is also telling of the complicity of higher-ups, like Faith Muthambi who insist on propping up the COO, in contempt of the courts and the Public Protector."

"This has continued as the SABC lurches from crisis to crisis, as the climate of fear for journalists grows and even as unions, civil society, opposition parties, and even factions of the governing party condemn Hlaudi Motsoeneng".

4. Trade unions: The Communication Workers Union (CWU) who got a raise from Hlaudi Motsoeneng recently says it supports Hlaudi Motsoeneng and his SABC censorship isn't saying or doing anything.

Bemawu says it will take the SABC to Labour Court after firing the 8 SABC journalists without disciplinary hearings, no due process, no warning letter and over something that's not even a fireable offense. That is besides the trade union Solidariteit that is also taking the SABC to the Labour Court over the same issue.

The Mwasa trade union in an open letter slammed the matricless broadcasting demagogue, telling Hlaudi Motsoeneng that "the world will not be silent as you continue your viral destruction and wreak havoc". Mwasa told Hlaudi Motsoeneng to "just resign and leave".

5. Amnesty International in a strongly-worded statement said firing the 8 SABC journalists is "a cynical and sinister ploy to entrench fear".

"The dismissal of eight SABC journalists following their suspension over their questioning of editorial decisions by the broadcaster's executives is a cynical and sinister decision designed to entrench a climate of fear at the institution‚" says Muleya Mwananyanda‚ Amnesty International's deputy director for Southern Africa.

"Their dismissals will only serve to undermine journalistic and media freedoms at the SABC. The eight journalists must be re-instated immediately".

6. Longtime SABC news staffers told TVwithThinus on Tuesday: "In the last year this [SABC] has become one of the ugliest and most oppressive places I've ever worked at" and "Every step further where nothing happens to him, he [Hlaudi Motsoeneng] feels emboldened to go further".

7.Scared SABC news staffers no longer want to cover and report on SABC stories, fearful they will end up in internal SABC real politik cross fire.

8.SABC bad reputation damaged further. SABC PR tzar Kaizer Kganyago who wasn't available for comment according to several reports, told one newspaper after the firings that the SABC "isn't concerned about and won't be influenced by the public reaction over the dismissals".

Meanwhile the SABC continues to make front page, lurid headlines in newspapers across South Africa ... literally daily (weekdays and on weekends non-stop) that's trashing the SABC's already trash reputation and its negative brand perception.

9. It's deja vu at the SABC (1) where the Public Protector found in her February 2014 report that Hlaudi Motsoeneng was directly involved in getting rid of every single SABC staffer who opposed him and who testified against him in earlier disciplinary hearings against him.

10.It's deja vu at the SABC (2) where the Public Protector found in her February 2014 report that Hlaudi Motsoeneng's last purge of SABC staff cost the beleaguered public broadcaster millions of rand, finding that firing senior employees "had cost the broadcaster millions, due to its procedural and substantive injustices".

"Most of the cases were handled without following proper procedure. All 14 suspensions and terminations were successfully challenged in court and at the CCMA".

The avoidable legal fees and payouts ballooned the SABC's salary bill with a massive R29 million that was unnecessary, and fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

News round-up:
■ Ray White, now assignment editor at Eyewitness News who worked at the SABC, says at the SABC a "Hlaud has dimmed the SABC's bright future", detailing how a young Hlaudi Motsoeneng was essentially a moron and struggled and was transferred to Bloemfontein.

"Journalists are no longer in charge of bringing you the news - the SABC is now the news."

■ Meanwhile after the SABC fired its 8 suspended journalists, Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) is slamming South African brands like Wimpy, Checkers, Vodacom, Clientele Life, Spur and others saying they better weigh the damage they do to their own brand being associated with and directly supporting censorship and undermining South Africa's democracy.

Meanwhile initially over R50 000 in donations was made by South Africans to help the fired journalists climbing to over R84 000 late on Tuesday from 124 people.

■ Trade union Solidarity says the SABC is behaving like a kangaroo court,

■ Daily Maverick has Ranjeni Munusamy weighing in on Hlaudi's Kill Bill: The Slippery Slide towards manipulating the news and that what started out as an attack on media freedom is fast becoming an attack on democracy.