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SABC: Metro FM decision is leadership at its best

SABC COO says he means business after pulling the plug of a Metro FM show.

SABC acting Chief Operating Officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN

JOHANNENSBURG - SABC management on Thursday said its decisions will not be influenced by politics although people do sometimes try to sway the broadcaster.

Acting Chief Operating Officer (COO), Hlaudi Motsoeneng said the ANC must be invited to participate in any on air discussion at the broadcaster about its elective conference in Mangaung.

He was responding to criticism about a decision to pull a show on Metro FM on Tuesday night about media coverage of Mangaung.

"People try their luck to try and influence us as we are a public broadcaster. We cannot allow anyone to influence our own decisions."

Motsoeneng said the decision was made in the interests of balance.

He said management at the SABC has changed and is now strong and will not be influenced.

"We mean business here at the SABC. This is leadership at its best."

He insists he wants to ensure that programming is balanced and fair and if the ANC is invited to participate in the cancelled Metro FM show, it will go ahead.

"The answer is simple. If the story is balanced, it will happen."

He remains confident that Tuesday night's decision was not influenced by politics.

Meanwhile, he will not publically say whether management will be taking any action against Metro FM presenter Sakina Kamwendo for comments she made on air on Tuesday night.

After the plug was pulled, Kamwendo told listeners she "will not dishonor" her platform, but "had a duty to uphold the integrity" of her show.

Motsoeneng said management will engage her and she will need to respond and a decision will be made whether or not she will be charged and undergo disciplinary action.

THE SHOW

Kamwendo was allegedly instructed to call-off an interview with Business Day journalist Sam Mkokeli, the Sunday Times' S'thembiso Msomi and Financial Times bureau editor Andrew England on her 'Road to Mangaung' radio feature.

But just minutes before the debate was set to air, Kamwendo was allegedly told to pull the plug on the discussion.

Mkokeli said the host was forced to play music for 15 minutes instead of conducting the interview.

"You could pick up that something was wrong, but we thought maybe it was technical. Then she went on air and said 'I'm not going to talk about the Mangaung conference'."

Mkokeli said the cancelling of the interviews felt like an ambush.

He said Kamwendo informed them that their boss had "got instruction from the hierarchy."

"I don't know where the instruction came from, but it sounded like it was a very serious issue."

When asked by a listener last night whether a gag order had been placed, Kamwendo said, "This is a fantastic station, a fantastic platform and I will not, I will not...be the one to dishonour it."

In September, Kamwendo was also due to interview expelled ANC Youth League (ANCYL) president Julius Malema during his tour of mines, but the ANC renegade apparently received a message from her saying that management at the public broadcaster told her to can the interview.

ANC delegates will at their conference elect new leaders who will most likely govern the country in 2014.

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