Our zero this week is the acting COO of the SABC, the outspoken and controversial Hlaudi Motsoeneng, for suggesting that the media are only focusing on corruption because the country has a black-led government.
His statement was made at the annual Joburg Radio Days conference that’s taking place at Wits.
As was the case with higher education minister Blade Nzimande in April, this is divisive talk. Motsoeneng is doing little to boost the credibility and role of the media with such talk, or to assure the nation that the government is accountable for its deeds, or misdeeds.
The fact is that corruption does exist in all levels of the public – and private – sector, all the way to the top. As civil servants must account to citizens about how public funds are used, it is one of the responsibilities of a free and uncensored press to expose corruption wherever it is proven to exist.
Motsoeneng has also been in the news for stating (at the same event) that journalists should be made to obtain licenses to write – a notion condemned by, among others, the South African National Editors’ Forum. "[In countries run as dictatorships] publication of stories which disclose official misconduct, abuse of power, corruption, cronyism and nepotism would be described as unprofessional or harmful to the state and the licence of the journalists writing them would be withdrawn," said the organisation in a statement.
Motsoeneng came under the spotlight earlier in 2014 after a public protector’s report revealed details of similar transgressions at the SABC. They included:
- The irregular appointment of Motsoeneng to the position of acting COO by the SABC despite not having a matric certificate and the required qualifications;
- Gross fraudulent misrepresentation of facts by allegedly declaring himself to be in possession of a matric certificate obtained at Metsimantsho High in the Free State; and
- The subsequent unprecedented escalation of the SABC's salary bill, attributed primarily to Motsoeneng's purging of senior executive staff members, irregular employee appointments and irregular salary increases, including Motsoeneng's own three salary increases which pushed his annual remuneration package from R1.5-million to R2.4-million in a single year – a brazen 63% increase.