Van Rooyen steps down as SABC acting COO

SABC's acting Chief Operations Manager has resigned
SABC's acting Chief Operations Manager has resigned
Image: Waldo Swiegers

The acting chief operations officer of the cash-strapped SABC has resigned.

Craig van Rooyen, who will exit the company on September 9, jumps ship after three months as acting COO.

He leaves after the state-owned radio and television broadcasting entity recently blacked out Absa Premier Soccer League games on all its platforms.

According to Sowetan's sister publication Sunday Times, millions of soccer fans were sidelined after the public broadcaster's management last week ordered its 18 radio stations to cancel any coverage or commentary of the Absa premiership.

The radio stations, with a listenership of almost 30-million people, were also barred from even mentioning the scores of PSL matches.

SABC spokesperson Vuyo Mthembu told Sowetan on Monday afternoon that Van Rooyen's resignation had nothing to do with the contentious soccer rights. Mthembu instead attributed the exit to personal reasons.

"The SABC regrets to announce the resignation of Dr Craig van Rooyen as acting COO and group executive: technology," said the company in a media statement released on Monday.

"Dr Van Rooyen’s resignation is due to personal and family reasons," read the statement.

Van Rooyen said the resignation was a tough decision.

"My decision to leave the SABC is one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make, due to my good working relationships at the corporation.

"The group chief executive officer, Mr Madoda Mxakwe, and the chief financial officer, Ms Yolande van Biljon, have made my decision to leave a particularly hard one.

"As executive directors, they have demonstrated a serious commitment to people, improving SABC processes, driving customer relations and making the SABC financially sustainable. Moreover, having been involved in crafting the SABC’s turnaround plan, I am confident that the SABC will overcome its challenges in the short term and become successful in the long term,” said Van Rooyen.

In the media statement SABC board chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini praised Van Rooyen for his contribution.

“Dr Van Rooyen has played a meaningful role in developing the digital strategy of the SABC, including preparing the SABC for digital migration and becoming a multiplatform, multichannel player.

"In the last three months, Dr Van Rooyen was also acting as the corporation’s COO. He has modelled the way for future COOs by demonstrating ethical leadership, technical expertise and business acumen.  The board is very sad to see him go, but wishes him well on his future endeavours."

Van Rooyen became acting COO after then incumbent Chris Maroleng was fired in April. The post has since been advertised.

Makhathini said the board, to ensure a smooth transition, will start interviewing potential candidates for the COO role this week while the position of group executive: technology would be advertised soon.

The SABC has just received a R3.5-billion bailout from the state subject to certain conditions from the National Treasury.

Kate Skinner, the coordinator of SOS: Support Public Broadcasting said there needs to be stability at SABC.

"We need a competent and experienced person to occupy the position," she said.

Neither minister of communication Stella Ndabeni's spokesperson nor Communications Workers Union's secretary general Aubrey Tshabalala had responded to Sowetan's questions by the time of publishing.

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