Board could not bulldoze me - Hlaudi Motsoeneng

Former SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng makes further submissions at the Zondo commission into state capture in Parktown, Johannesburg, yesterday./ANTONIO MUCHAVE
Former SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng makes further submissions at the Zondo commission into state capture in Parktown, Johannesburg, yesterday./ANTONIO MUCHAVE

Former SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng believes the public broadcaster's board thought it could push him around because he didn't have matric.

Motsoeneng, during his day two on the stand at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture yesterday, said regardless of how he had been portrayed, his decisions were always in the best interests of the SABC.

"I think after people realised that they cannot bulldoze me, they realised that we have appointed the wrong person here, actually we were not supposed to appoint this one," he said.

"It seems as if it's a favour [appointing him] from where I was analysing it and interpreting it and chairperson, I'm very firm and you can't influence me if I don't agree with you easily," he said.

Motsoeneng had on numerous occasions locked horns with the board, chaired by Professor Mbulaheni Maguvhe, over some of its decisions.

"I stand for what I believe in, what is correct. No one can bulldoze me because wrong is wrong. You can't give me wrong instruction because if it's wrong instruction I will say no, I can't do it," Motsoeneng told the commission.

Motsoeneng also rejected claims that he was directly involved in the suspension of eight journalists who spoke out against his policy to not broadcast violent protests ahead of the local government elections in 2016.

He had been accused of purging journalists who were against the decision to stop the coverage of protests.

"I will never allow a situation where people are dismissed because of the difference among themselves. It's normal in a newsroom, it's normal in any environment," said Motsoeneng.

This decision by Motsoeneng was one of the many controversial decisions that he had taken while at the helm at the public broadcaster.

He was accused of running the SABC with an iron fist as it was alleged that those who dared defy him got dealt with.

Eight journalists, who later became known as the SABC8, got fired after they spoke out against this decision which they said at the time was unwarranted editorial interference. They were later reinstated.

Asked whether anyone who did not comply with this decision, including the SABC8, had to be disciplined. Motsoeneng replied: "Not at all."

He said it was commonly known that some of the managers at the SABC dropped his name whenever they wanted to get rid of people.

"Many people were supposed to be dismissed, when management they want to dismiss them and they go there and use my name.

"I will never allow such stuff to happen at the SABC because I know that is what journalists should do, debate robustly among themselves."

Motsoeneng confirmed that he met with the journalists, including SAfm executive producer Krivani Pillay and told them that if there were decisions that they do not agree with they can go look for jobs outside the SABC.

"I said to them, 'no if you believe the SABC, this [is the] direction that we're taking, you are not in support, you don't agree with us, what you do? What's wrong if I said they must go?"

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