Zondo hears why Hlaudi Motsoeneng canned 'The Editors' & analysis of Zuma's Sona

05 September 2019 - 13:28 By Amil Umraw
SAFM's Krivani Pillay said former SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng ordered that Jacob Zuma's Sona speech should not be discussed by analysts.
SAFM's Krivani Pillay said former SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng ordered that Jacob Zuma's Sona speech should not be discussed by analysts.
Image: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Sandile Ndlovu

Former SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng is said to have ordered that a popular programme be taken off air because it discussed a controversial decision he had made.

After Motsoeneng pushed a new policy in 2016 that banned visuals of protest action being aired, an SAFM radio programme called The Editors held a discussion to analyse his decision. 

The programme discussed media-related issues and top stories that broke in Sunday newspapers. 

Krivani Pillay, the executive producer for SAFM current affairs, told the state capture inquiry on Thursday that after the show aired, Motsoeneng summoned her to his office and announced the show would be canned. 

"It did not go down with [Motsoeneng]. We were subsequently called in to discuss why we had taken that stance," she told the commission. 

Quoting Motsoeneng from her recollection of the meeting, Pillay said: "We are cleaning up, the people are doing their own stuff. There are many journalists outside who want to work with the SABC ... This is the new SABC, you must adapt or find a job somewhere else. If people do not adhere, get rid of them.”  At the meeting, Motsoeneng ordered that the show be cancelled. 

"According to him, the programme had brought the SABC into disrepute because we were discussing a decision he sanctioned," Pillay said.   

"It was the lowest point of my career. It was left up to me to go to my colleagues and tell them what happened at the meeting ... I felt embarrassed, I felt like I had let the team down. I took it quite personally."

Pillay was part of what later became known as the SABC 8 - a group of senior staff who openly opposed Motsoeneng's decisions and were axed for their defiance.   

It was after this meeting that Pillay, along with other members of the SABC 8, penned a letter to Motsoeneng highlighting their concerns. Less than a week after penning the letter, she was called to a disciplinary hearing and fired for allegedly bringing the SABC into disrepute. 

Pillay also testified about another controversial decision by Motsoeneng during her tenure. 

She said in February 2016, when then-president Jacob Zuma was due to deliver his state of the nation address, Motsoeneng ordered that the president's speech should not be discussed by analysts.

"In February 2016, traditionally when the president gives his Sona, part of our public service mandate is our teams fly to Cape Town to give wall-to-wall coverage. We were told there would be no analysis of Zuma's address, that coming from the top," Pillay said.

"I called and cancelled the analysts 24 hours before Sona. That speech went on without political analysis."

She believed the decision was made so that Zuma's speech would not come under scrutiny.