Getrude Makhafola and Ntwagae Seleka
Tears and anger abound at the SABC after the humiliation of their favourite man, President Thabo Mbeki, at the ANC's polls for its top positions.
Senior political reporter Sophie Mokoena and news boss Snuki Zikalala could not hold back their tears after Jacob Zuma trounced Mbeki for the post of ANC president in Polokwane.
"The ANC voted for a monkey," Zikalala told colleagues in the SABC's news centre in Polokwane after Zuma's victory, shocked sources recount.
"They were distraught, visibly shaken and upset," said one informant of SABC's chief executive Dali Mpofu, Zikalala, presidential reporter Miranda Strydom, SAFM producer Thandanani Dlamini and Mokoena.
But it seems nothing will stop the pro-Mbeki stand at the corporation. Another source said yesterday that Mpofu told editorial executives on Friday "the next 18 months are going to be tough and they will have to portray Mbeki in a positive light.'"
Mpofu, a delegate at the ANC conference that ended on Thursday, said he was quitting, the source said.
Another source said Zikalala was distressed when Cosatu secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi, a Zuma backer, walked into the studios of Ukhozi FM after the results were announced.
"Snuki was obscured in a corner, but I can tell you that if looks could kill Vavi would be dead by now," said our source.
"These people were talking openly and Snuki kept on saying 'listen to him, listen to him' as Zuma spoke after the elections."
Strydom then reportedly said, "The ANC does not deserve Thabo Mbeki" and left the conference. "Yes, she left before it was all over. That's how distraught and angry she was."
Mokoena yesterday refused to comment on Zuma's victory, saying she did not want to create problems with her employer.
Strydom also refused to comment.
Attempts to get Mpofu and head of news Zikalala drew a blank.
SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago denied the reports and condemned a report on the executives' distress published in yesterday's Sunday Times.
"Basically the story was untrue and we as the SABC condemned it. The journalist who wrote the story never did good research."
He said the report was an attack on the SABC's chief executive Dali Mpofu, head of news Snuki Zikalala and senior reporter Sophie Mokoena.
"We were never contacted for comment and instead the journalist went and contacted Cosatu."
Kganyago said the SABC would follow up the matter with the press ombudsman.
"As far as we know there is no bad blood between us and Cosatu and the newspaper," said Kganyago. "We don't know what were the writer's intentions.
"We are really worried why we were never contacted for comment to give out valuable facts."
l See also page 12.