Chris Maroleng . File photo: SUNDAY TIMES/KATHERINE MUICK-MERE.
Chris Maroleng . File photo: SUNDAY TIMES/KATHERINE MUICK-MERE.

Ousted SABC COO Chris Maroleng on Wednesday insisted that he had no intention of returning to the troubled broadcaster, saying his main objective is to clear his name.

Maroleng confirmed that he will be appealing against his “unfair dismissal”, adding that “the intention is to clear my name. I have no intention of going back”.

Speculation is rife that Maroleng had a difficult working relationship with CEO Madoda Mxakwe, which may have played a key role in the public broadcasters move to dismiss the chief operating officer.

The broadcaster, which  is the only source of news for millions of South Africans,  is on the brink of financial collapse as it awaits R6.8bn in government funding to stay afloat.

The SABC announced on Tuesday that it has terminated the contract of Maroleng with immediate effect following a disciplinary hearing. Maroleng had taken over the role in February 2018 and was tasked with driving the clean-up  at the public broadcaster. He took over from the controversial Hlaudi Motsoeneng, who was axed in 2017 for bringing the SABC into disrepute.

In an interview on Wednesday, Maroleng described his dismissal as harsh, especially when compared with his predecessor, Motsoeneng.

Charges that Maroleng faced included gross dishonesty, misrepresentation and dereliction of duty. He also allegedly approved a monthly acting allowance of R15,000 for an employee despite the human resources department not signing off on the agreement.

Maroleng was also charged for his role in trying to save former SABC acting group executive for sports Marcia Mahlalela’s job at SA Rugby.

Mahlalela resigned from the SABC in a huff in late 2018 on the day she was to appear before a disciplinary committee to answer for alleged irregularities relating to the reappointment of sports presenter Robert Marawa. She later joined SA Rugby.

After noting newspaper reports that Mahlalela was facing charges before jumping ship, her new employers wrote to Maroleng inquiring about the seriousness of the charges she faced before her resignation.

Maroleng told SA Rugby that she was not found guilty of any wrongdoing. He told the rugby body that the charges against Mahlalela were not substantiated. He also said the SABC would have found it difficult to prove any of the allegations against her.

In his written submission to the disciplinary committee in mitigation, which Business Day has seen, Maroleng said he “demonstrated genuine remorse and he acknowledged wrongdoing”.

“There was no self-gratification by Maroleng and no benefit accrued to him arising from any of the (three) charges that he has been found guilty of,” the submission reads.

Maroleng told Business Day that while the SABC had followed the correct procedure in terms of conducting the disciplinary hearing, the outcome was patently unfair.

“When you take a look at the charges, you will see that the things which I am accused of are part of running the operations at the SABC. There were missteps in terms of the manner in which I carried out certain things, but that does not amount to a dismissible offence in my view. I was always acting in the best interest of the SABC. I did not enrich myself, engage in corrupt activities, fraud, or sinister actions similar to the likes of Hlaudi and others who did not face similar sanctions, at least not immediately,” said Maroleng.  

phakathib@businesslive.co.za