SABC reviewing policy of Hlaudi's 'final say' clause

Former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng, seen during his disciplinary hearing. Picture: Alon Skuy/The Times
Former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng, seen during his disciplinary hearing. Picture: Alon Skuy/The Times

The SABC is reviewing a policy that saw its former chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng taking the role of editor-in-chief as he dished out instructions barring journalists from covering violent protests.

Yesterday the public broadcaster "re-launched" the process to review its editorial policies, which were made into law in 2004.

The review comes after the then communications minister Faith Muthambi in February last year amended the editorial policy of 2004.

This move was later found by the watchdog Independent Communications Authority of SA to be invalid following complaints relating to inadequate public consultations.

Muthambi's amendments resulted in the role of the editor-in-chief, which had been occupied by the SABC chief executive, being transferred to Motsoeneng.

In May 2016, Motsoeneng controversially barred journalists from covering violent public protests.

He had argued that the SABC "would like to encourage citizens to protest peacefully without destroying the very same institutions that are needed to restore their dignity."

At the media briefing yesterday, interim board chairwoman Khanyisile Kweyama said the new review process was aimed at restoring credibility and governance at the SABC.

"It is through the lack of governance that today policies can be changed without going through a proper process," she said.

The review process is scheduled to run between July 31 and August 31 across all provinces,

Kweyama, whose board put an end to Motsoeneng's decision to play 90% local content as it was not financially viable, said: "We are here to listen to the public and hear what they say.

"The suggestions have to be practical and make sense and fit into the SABC strategy.

"When we talked about the 90-10 policy. we spoke about the budget implications...

"We are going to hear everything that is being said, and once it is in front of us, we will motivate why we can and why we cannot do some things," said Kweyama, whose board's term ends in September.

SABC acting chief executive Tsheliso Ralitabo said policies were not immune from abuse.

"We are just going to be depending on the integrity that we are trying to build back for the organisation, and we are hoping that the executives that will be in place will be able to comply and adhere to the guidelines and the policies that we would have put in place."

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