SIU guns for Gqubule-Mbeki - Veteran journo's appointment is being investigated

Thandeka Gqubule-Mbeki, seen here with Foeta Krige, is alleged to have been appointed irregularly at the SABC. The SIU is investigating./ Freddy Mavunda
Thandeka Gqubule-Mbeki, seen here with Foeta Krige, is alleged to have been appointed irregularly at the SABC. The SIU is investigating./ Freddy Mavunda

The alleged irregular appointment of SABC economics editor Thandeka Gqubule-Mbeki in 2013 is among those being investigated by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).

Gqubule-Mbeki, 51, a member of the so-called SABC 8 journalists who exposed SABC management's alleged interference in editorial matters, was allegedly offered the post by former SABC head of news Jimi Matthews, without following the right processes.

She was appointed to the post in December 2013 despite failing to attend an interview scheduled for August 20 2012.

The veteran journalist is married to political economist Moeletsi Mbeki and authored former public protector Thuli Madonsela's biography No Longer Whispering to Power - The Story of Thuli Madonsela.

Sunday World saw documents in which Gqubule-Mbeki was marked as having not pitched for the interviews, as well as a submission by former acting SABC chief executive James Aguma to parliament in which he confirmed the allegedly irregular appointment.

SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said: "We can confirm that both Mr Lubisi and Ms Nkanyane were given final written warnings following a forensic audit conducted regarding the Xitsonga Music Awards. There is no truth regarding the allegation of over spending neither was this a charge against them. We are not at liberty to divulge the charges as the matter is between the employer and employee."

Gqubule-Mbeki said: "This is a smear campaign, part of a harassment campaign. It is not true and it is harmful and hurtful. It is so wrong."

According to internal documents, the SABC interviewed four of the five candidates for the post and Gqubule-Mbeki never gave reasons for her absence nor requested to be interviewed on another day.

The "top" candidate was not appointed because SABC bosses said he demanded more money.

The documents also indicate that a few months later Matthews drafted a memo asking human resources to appoint Gqubule-Mbeki.

According to the memo dated November 11 2013, which we have seen, Matthews said the appointment would be made without following the regulated recruitment process.

In the memo, Matthews said the SABC interviewed candidates, all of whom were external, but did not disclose that Gqubule-Mbeki was short-listed but failed to pitch.

The memo was also signed by group executive of human capital services Jabulani Mabaso and then-acting group CEO Tian Olivier.

In his submission to the parliamentary inquiry into the fitness of the SABC board, Aguma labelled Gqubule-Mbeki a beneficiary of an improper recruitment process.

"Candidates were interviewed and despite Ms Gqubule-Mbeki not showing up and not being the successful candidate, she was appointed by Mr Jimi Matthews, an appointment which was sanctioned by Mr Mabaso on 18 November 2013.

"It comes as a surprise to the SABC that Ms Gqubule-Mbeki who is advocating for proper governance benefited from the application of an improper recruitment process," reads SABC's response to the parliamentary committee.

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