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Mampone's SABC plan

By unknown | Oct 27, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

The idea was to have a conversation with Gab Mampone so we could bring you a newspaper article about him.

The idea was to have a conversation with Gab Mampone so we could bring you a newspaper article about him.

He gave me a speech, instead. No, a presentation, in fact.

This is the man who, when you next read about him, would have taken over from Dali Mpofu at the SABC. He spoke to me - with prepared notes nogal - like I were on the interview panel that would give him the job of chief executive at the public broadcaster.

It went something like this:

He is Gabriel Lehlogonolo Mampone and "I am an out-and-out township boy. I was born in Phomolong, I did my schooling there."

Like it was a mark of honour, he says: "I've been a Sowetan all my life."

Sowetan is a resident of the sprawling cluster of townships south west of Johannesburg, not the newspaper in your hands. I notice that he's dressed to the nines, almost in his Sunday best, and when he says he's a township kid whose sense of fulfilment is going to the shebeens and the unveilings in his neck of the woods, it somewhat completes the picture.

This is the guy who still goes by his nickname, Potsho, a moniker he picked up in his soccer playing days.

But in the milieu of being streetwise, he did find time for school - graduating with a BA (Hons) in international relations at Wits, as well as two post-graduate qualifications from the business school of the same university.

He's been acting head honcho for six months now to allow serial litigant Mpofu to deal with his legal demons.

"The job first has to be advertised," he says about the done deal.

He says it is the board that decides, recommending one or two names. The minister of Communications then submits the names to Cabinet. Anybody who thinks they are chief executive material can apply, says Mampone.

The township boy was a sales rep at the breweries, a hip job at the time. "I've been a sales marketer all my life."

When I Googled his name, the search told me he's "a qualified and practising chartered marketer".

The grapevine says he's a member of both the International Forum and the Institute of Marketing Management.

When he left SAB, it was for a position as general manager in sales at the SABC, from where he was promoted in 2006 to group executive of commercial enterprises, he says.

In early May he was appointed to act in Mpofu's position, the very job he's convinced he can do best.

The 10 years he's been in Auckland Park have prepared him for the job of chief executive, he says, stealing a look at his notes. His stay has enhanced his marketing, management and corporate experience, he says, using words like "huge" and "enormous" to describe the size of his experience.

When he started at the public broadcaster, radio sales "were about R300million; now they are close to a billion".

His MBA, from De Montfort University came as a result of a dissertation that was titled: "The factors influencing the decline of radio advertising expenditure and an in-depth analysis of radio advertising within the South African context."

He talks on about how he can make money for the SABC, news that would generally excite the board, any board.

"I have seen it all," he says about life at the SABC. "I have a plan."

If what he says is anything to go by, the SABC is in good hands: "I know which button to touch. I understand the organisation."

The plan he has is not a pie-in-the-sky Martin Luther King-type I Have A Dream vision, he says, it is realisable. In his head, he wants to prepare the SABC to stand in readiness for the much-hyped 2010.


By giving us flawless coverage, he says.

As we speak; no, as I listen, he's on his way to Kuruman to see if he cannot wave a magic wand - bring radio and television to the three million people with no access to radio, and the fivemillion who haven't been touched by television.

The SABC, he says, has a compelling story to tell.

But when he talks about it, it is only about making money for the corporation!

He says the SABC is a global player. It commands a lot of respect. He is for the idea that the SABC should open more bureaus in the capitals of the world. He makes sense, he talks money and gives the sort of quotable quotes that would best find place in the business pages of this paper.

He talks about the SABC like it were a bank.

Those whose pastime it is to lampoon the SABC have their days numbered, as the man likely to be at the top says "we need to re-communicate the SABC brand".

The raison d'etre - his words, not mine - of the organisation is broadcasting. Everything else is inconsequential.

Are you listening, Dali Mpofu?

The clean-cut Mampone says he's his own man, he's not filling anybody's shoes.

"Ask any person who knows me," he says, "I'm a ruthlessly independent person."

He's not at the SABC to sell himself, the marketing guru says.

A recent study by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) tells Mampone that a large majority of South Africans place the SABC first among their trusted institutions.

He personally watches a lot of TV and thinks the idea of more local content over foreign material is the way to go: "I'm loyal to this."

He takes a break from his notes to tell me: "Let not the SABC break under our watch."

He is in town - at the SABC - until 2011.

"In that time," he says, "I want to make a difference."

Mampone is married with three children - 24, 19 and a daughter of 8.

He is, his words again, a ferocious reader who belongs to an exclusive manuscript-reading organisation.

He plans to study further but it's a toss up between Wits and Unisa.

Give the man the job.


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