Thursday, February 6, 2014

SOS calls for strong action and public input after confirmation of yet another SABC CEO resignation

The SOS: Support Public Broadcasting Coalition notes with shock that the SABC’s CEO, Lulama Mokhobo, has resigned and has reached an undisclosed settlement with her former employers.

Since 2008 there have been six CEOs at the helm of the SABC and that various CEOs, on leaving, have received (often very substantial) packages from the Corporation. The Coalition is totally opposed to these payouts and sees them as fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

The need for transparency and full-disclosure from the SABC’s oversight bodies
The Coalition calls for immediate transparency and full-disclosure from the SABC Board as to the reasons for Ms Mokhobo’s resignation including full disclosure around any pay-out that may be in the offing. 

Further, the Coalition calls on the SABC Board Chair to inform the South African public as to how the Corporation intends to deal with this latest leadership vacuum and how they plan to deal with ongoing leadership instabilities at the SABC.

The Coalition fears that high turn-over of executive staff at the SABC has not only compromised the integrity of the organisation to date but, particularly now as we approach elections, will impact on the integrity and quality of programming on the SABC.

At present the SABC has an acting Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO). As our public representatives we need the Board to present a clear plan of action and we need this without delay. The Board needs to hold an urgent press conference and further present their plans to a special hearing in Parliament.

The Coalition calls on the Ministry to explain the ongoing work of the Ministerial Task Team set up to deal with financial and governance crises at the SABC. We need transparency in this regard. 

Further, the Coalition notes the ongoing instability and crises created by various Ministers intervening in the appointment of the three executives of the SABC including the CEO, CFO and COO stretching back to 2008. The Coalition strongly opposes Ministerial input as regards appointments and has in fact embarked on legal action to prevent Ministerial approval of executive appointments.

Public meeting
The SOS Coalition will be calling an urgent public meeting to discuss a plan of action. The Coalition believes that we as members of the public and audiences of the SABC need to have a say in the governance, funding and most importantly programming of our SABC.

Coalition members have been calling for, amongst a number of issues, the following:

  • The SABC to be placed under administration;
  • For public input in terms of executive appointments;
  • For transparency as regards the role of the Acting COO in the dissolution of the Board in 2013 and now the CEO’s resignation - and for all outstanding issues surrounding the appointment of a permanent COO to be resolved without delay; and
  • For the SABC to be turned into a Chapter 9 institution such as the Public Protector to safeguard its programming independence from all vested interests.

The Coalition’s vision document for transformed public broadcasting in South Africa can be found here.

The SOS Coalition represents a broad spectrum of civil society stakeholders committed to the broadcasting of quality, diverse, citizen-orientated public-interest programming aligned to the goals of the SA Constitution. The Coalition includes a number of trade union federations including COSATU and FEDUSA, a number of independent unions including BEMAWU and MWASA; independent film and TV production sector organisations including the South African Screen Federation (SASFED); a host of NGOs and CBOs including the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) and Media Monitoring Africa (MMA), and a number of academics and freedom of expression activists.

For more information contact:
Sekoetlane Jacob Phamodi
Coordinator (Acting)

076 084 8077