Motsoeneng usurped power from Mokhobo, SABC inquiry hears

The inquiry also heard that Communications Minister Faith Muthambi put pressure on the SABC board to permanently appoint Motsoeneng as COO.

FILE: A screengrab of Hlaudi Motsoeneng as he and the SABC board appear before Parliament's Communications Portfolio Committee on 5 October, 2016.

CAPE TOWN - Former non-executive board member Professor Bongani Khumalo has told a parliamentary committee that Hlaudi Motsoeneng usurped power from former CEO Lulama Mokhobo.

The inquiry into the South African Broadcasting Corporation board’s fitness resumed on Tuesday following a day of damning evidence given by veteran journalists and former officials.

Khumalo says Mokhobo was not well supported at the company.

The former CEO says she was treated with contempt by many in the organisation, including Motsoeneng who went over her head on big decisions.

“She went around as a persona grata in the organisation she led. People looked up to her to get direction, but if she was browbeaten or her back was not straight, [it was] because she did enjoy the support from where she should have had it.”

Mokhobo last week told the committee she'd been left out of the controversial agreement between the SABC and MultiChoice.

“We were faced with a very strange situation, where the chief executive was undermined and she did not matter. Even at time when major issues were being discussed, or we were looking at strategy, she was not the one talking about strategy,” Khumalo said.

The last remaining board member, Mbuhuleni Maguvhe, is also expected to appear today after he was ordered to appear before the committee.

At the same time, Khumalo has revealed that Communications Minister Faith Muthambi put pressure on the public broadcaster’s board to permanently appoint Motsoeneng.

Khumalo has described a special board meeting convened by former chairperson Ellen Tshabalala, which ended in agreement to make Motsoeneng chief operating officer.

He says at the time, the board was split over the findings of the Public Protector’s office, which directed that Motsoeneng face a disciplinary hearing after lying about his qualifications, among other things.

Khumalo quit last January after Muthambi wrote to him, asking him to give reasons why she shouldn’t recommend to President Jacob Zuma that he be removed from the board.

Follow the SABC inquiry live here.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)