new sabc boss gagged

Eric Naki and Sapa

Eric Naki and Sapa

New SABC acting group news chief Amrit Manga was not talking to the media yesterday.

He is stepping into suspended Snuki Zikalala's shoes.

Manga referred all questions to spokesman Kaizer Kganyago when asked about his short-term plans.

"I am not allowed to talk, speak to Kaizer Kganyago," Manga said. "He is our spokesman."

Attempts to get comment from Kganyago were fruitless and his cellphone voicemail would not accept messages because it was full.

Manga, head of TV news and current affairs and former Sowetan assistant editor for politics, was appointed late on Wednesday after Zikalala's suspension by group chief executive Dali Mpofu.

Yesterday board member Bheki Khumalo said the media tended to see the SABC as a "convenient whipping boy or girl".

Launching the SABC News Agency in Johannesburg, he said there was considerable doubt and disruption clouding the SABC's activities. This had put the organisation under stress.

"There is a tendency, fuelled by the media - whose natural habit is to hunt in the security of a pack and who see the SABC as a convenient whipping boy or girl - to see everything that goes on in our organisation as reflecting this or that political personality or faction in South African politics," Khumalo said.

"This launch is good news for the SABC when less encouraging news can be the order of the day."

The SABC board suspended chief executive Dali Mpofu on Wednesday, a day after he suspended the broadcaster's news and current affairs executive Snuki Zikalala.

Last week Parliament's communication portfolio committee said it intended passing a motion of no confidence in the SABC board.

Khumalo said yesterday the SABC would "shake off" all things that deterred it from being a credible public broadcaster.

The government would not intervene in the "apparent dispute" between the SABC board and its executive management, Communications Minister Ivy MatsepeCasaburri said yesterday.

The board was responsible for appointing SABC executives so "they have to hire and fire", she told a media briefing at Parliament.