Friday, March 16, 2018
In petition, 116 SABC News staffers warn over ongoing allegations of victimisation, political interference, Hlaudi enforcers and sex for jobs at the public broadcaster.
The SABC is silent over a petition, signed by 116 SABC News staffers, warning that political interference at the SABC continues, that "there is a re-emergence of reprisals against those who stood for the truth and for an independent broadcaster", that "victimisation of staff who stand for ethics continue" and that allegations of "sex for jobs" at the SABC should be investigated.
The SABC was asked for comment on Thursday, but the broadcaster declined the opportunity to comment.
SABC staffers in the petition - signed by 116 infuriated and extremely concerned SABC staffers including key SABC News staff like editors, producers and technical personnel - states that they fear that the SABC is still being ruled by enforcers of the fired former chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng, and that victimisation and political interference in their jobs to bring the public the news, continues.
In the petition that was sent to SABC top management in mid-February, staffers say they have deep concerns and are furious over developments in the SABC News division.
The 116 staffers in the petition given to SABC top management by the Bemawu trade union, say that the SABC newsroom "is still being led by enforcers" of Hlaudi Motsoeneng, "some of whom continue to disregard the changed editorial environment that calls for conscience and professionalism such as Sophie Mokoena's unethical instruction to staff not to ask any question on president Jacob Zuma's recall in a recent ANC press conference".
SABC staffers said that "political interference continues" at SABC News, demand the "removal of the current compromised presidential corps team" and wants to know from the SABC's top executives why "the SABC continues to employ disgraces and discredited executives who propped up the previous regime.These people, such as Theresa Geldenhuys, who has been promoted to head of governance and compliance, were found liable for serious transgressions by parliament's ad hoc committee".
The SABC staffers in the petition warned that "there is a re-emergence of reprisals against those who stood for the truth and for an independent broadcaster".
"Victimisation of staff who stand for ethics continues. Here we cite the cases of David Magae, Boitumelo Koroge, Elvis Presslin, Mandisa Mazwi, Thandeka Gqubule, Phuthego Mojapele among others".
The petition also calls for an investigation into the alleged "misuse of SABC funds at a time when we are on economic austerity". In the petition, staffers also "demand an investigation into alleged sex for jobs at the Mpumalanga office and everywhere else where such allegations have been made".
SABC News channel turmoil
Furthermore, according to the petition, "For the past 6 months, our news division has fallen prey to unprofessionalism mainly due to poor leadership and management by the acting head of news and current affairs, Kenneth Makatees" that the staffers say "has been reminiscent of the Hlaudi-style of management".
According to staffers he has been moved to the SABC's SABC News (DStv 404) channel broadcast on MultiChoice's DStv.
"We demand a proper advertising of the post and his removal from the Johannesburg newsroom as his presence is bound to destabilise the newsroom and hamper progress," the petition states. "Management must bear in mind that he was previously removed through a petition from the erstwhile SABC Africa (TV channel)".
The SABC staffers in the petition further demanded "the immediate removal of acting head of the news channel, Tebogo Alexander" for allegedly undermining executive producers, "threatening reprisals on his subordinates instead of resolving newsroom issues professionally", the intimidation of contractors with dismissals, bullying of his colleagues and "absolutely no professional mannerism or leadership skills".
The 116 SABC News staffers called on the SABC management "for an investigation into his behaviour and his track record as a manager at the SABC where there is a pattern of reported harassment of staff and abuse of power and position against his subordinates".
SABC News staffers wanted to know why shows are suddenly and unilaterally being pulled off air on the SABC News channel.
"Staff was told Rights and Recourse would be removed from the channel 404 schedule as from 31 March. However on Friday 23 February the team was told that their last show would be broadcast on Sunday 25 February without further clarity".
Question Time was also cancelled. "It is worth noting that this programme has annoyed news management in the past with its editorial independence and refusal to accept illegal instructions," the petition notes.
In the petition staffers also "demand the speedy appointment of a permanent head of the TV News Resources department which continues to be run unprofessionally without any sense of accountability by those who act in that position".
SABC: It's an internal matter
The SABC was asked for comment about the petition. The SABC then asked for specific questions, in order to respond adequately to the media enquiry.
The SABC was then asked why was Theresa Geldenhuys appointed as head of governance and compliance if she was found liable for serious transgressions during parliament’s inquiry into the SABC?
The SABC was asked about staffers saying there a “re-emergence of reprisals” against them and victimisation of staff who "stand for professional ethics" and if the SABC can comment on this.
The SABC was asked why Kenneth Makatees was moved to the SABC News channel, and if the SABC can comment on the petition that asked for the immediate removal of Tebogo Alexander as the acting head of the SABC News channel, and if this has happened.
The SABC was asked why shows like Question Time and Rights and Recourse on SABC News were cancelled,and asked if the SABC has any comment on SABC staffers saying that Sophie Mokoena gave "unethical instruction to staff not to ask any question on president Zuma’s recall in a recent ANC press conference".
The SABC was also asked if in general if there is anything the SABC wants to put into context or perspective in response to the petition as a whole.
SABC spokesperson, Kaizer Kganyago said in response to the specific questions in the media enquiry that "this is an internal matter and we will not comment until all the internal processes are exhausted".
Below is the petition in its entirety: