Sabc's Kwele defiant
SUSPENDED SABC head of the 2010 project unit Peter Kwele says the broadcaster can crucify him but he will forever be proud of having brought the best production to viewers.
"If you ask anybody - President Jacob Zuma and Fifa president Sepp Blatter - what they remember about the 2010 Fifa World Cup, they will tell you that the SABC broadcast studio brought them closer to the game," he told Sowetan in an interview.
Kwele was suspended two weeks ago, allegedly for spending about R26million to rent studio space belonging to his friend Graham Cooke at the Sandton Convention Centre during the Fifa 2010 World Cup.
Cooke, the president of World Travel Awards, is friends with both Kwele and his wife, Lindiwe Mahlangu-Kwele, the chief executive of Johannesburg Tourism.
"I never, at any stage, denied that I knew Graham. When we missed out on the opportunity to rent space at Nasrec, I told my bosses that I could try and get space.
"I contacted Graham, whom I met through my wife. He said he would see what he could do because the place was already fully booked.
"He reshuffled and made the space available for us," he said.
Kwele said he also tried to get space at the Cape Town International Convention Centre but it was already fully booked. He said he was "paralysed" by his suspension and was still in the dark about why he was suspended.
"The bosses knew that Cooke was known to me. They agreed to use the venue because it worked very well with the strategic plan for the World Cup.
"The centre was in the CBD and everyone was close to the place.
"Graham never received a cent from the SABC. It was a trading exchange deal. He received airtime from the SABC in exchange for the venue. The saddest thing is that my family has been dragged into this. I have not done anything wrong and I am yet to find out from my bosses what is the way forward," Kwele said.
He said he wanted to know why the SABC had taken so long to take action if he had done something wrong.
"Why am I being suspended now? The project was a success and I am proud," Kwele said.
SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said: "I am not going to comment on an employer-employee issue. None of the things in Sowetan's story (published on Friday) are true.
"The SABC did not pay Cooke anything.
"We entered into a deal and the SABC would give him unsold inventory airtime worth R13,9 million which would be valid for a year."