Embattled Hlaudi Motsoeneng goes rogue, defies MPs
Embattled SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng went off the rails on Monday, accusing MPs of "not being honourable" and saying he had no reason to account to parliament.
Motsoeneng and Communications Minister Faith Muthambi, appeared before parliament yesterday to account for various decisions taken by the broadcaster. As Motsoeneng went on a tirade, ANC MPs backtracked on calls for a parliamentary inquiry into the struggling public broadcaster.
On August 16 the communications committee agreed in principle to a request for a parliamentary inquiry into the SABC.
ANC MPs made a U-turn yesterday, dismissing any call for an inquiry. The move seemed to embolden Motsoeneng, who attacked MPs and accused them of not being "honourable".
"[They] are not adhering to the oath that they have taken especially honourable member here of the DA [Phumzile van Damme]. How are we going to respect this committee? You should also be honourable. Some members are not honourable in this case," said Motsoeneng, before being ordered to retract his statement by Committee Chairman Humphrey Maxegwana.
Motsoeneng asked: "Why should I account to you when you don't give us money?"
He said some political parties "collude with certain print media and certain commercial broadcasters. We are aware."
Maxegwana opened the meeting by dealing with reports about an inquiry. Last week Van Damme said the committee had agreed to an inquiry [into the happenings at the SABC].
"Yes, an inquiry is in the rules of parliament. But we are meeting with [the communications] department to hear what it says about all these issues of SABC, and Independent Communications Authority of SA.
"I just want us to be very clear [about] what we communicate. There is a decision of a meeting [but] what was raised in the meeting was not necessarily what was decided," said Maxegwana.
He said the committee had only three hours to interrogate the SABC and other entities.
Freedom Front Plus MP Pieter Mulder said he really believed "an inquiry is necessary".
But ANC MP Mziwamadoda Kalako dismissed the call, saying the committee should refrain from "jumping" for an inquiry without first engaging the SABC.
Van Damme said she was "a little bit disappointed" as the committee appeared to be "backtracking". She said after the meeting that she would write to the chairman to ask for written reasons the parliamentary inquiry "has effectively been abandoned by the ANC in committee, despite it being agreed to in principle".
She said all members of the board should be fired.
The Right2Know campaign has expressed its outrage about parliament backtracking on the decision to go through with the inquiry into the SABC. It said parliament was protecting the SABC board and Muthambi.
"It is outrageous to see what is happening at the SABC and parliament is saying to the public that they see nothing wrong with what has happened [there]. We know that the public broadcaster is in financial trouble, so it is lying to the public to say that there are no crises there," said Right2know campaign national spokesman Murray Hunter.
He said the crises at the SABC and their effects on the public to consume uncensored news were being compromised by the public broadcaster and had a direct effect on the country's democracy.
"The ANC has decided that it can ignore the SABC matter for a few months longer as if what is happening does not affect the public. [It] directly affects democracy and the people are beginning to blame the ANC," he said.