Faith Muthambi: The bull in the SABC china shop
Muthambi surprised everyone present by arriving unannounced at board meetings late at night
COMMUNICATIONS Minister Faith Muthambi interfered in the deliberations of the SABC board and in the appointment of Hlaudi Motsoeneng as the corporation‘s COO soon after entering the cabinet, the parliamentary inquiry into the public broadcaster has heard.
According to former board members who gave evidence yesterday, Muthambi surprised everyone present by arriving unannounced at board meetings late at night.
Late-night meetings and frequent secret meetings were the order of the day, it was said.
Muthambi is said to have arrived at the SABC‘s Auckland Park
offices at 11pm one night while board members were discussing Motsoeneng‘s appointment as COO. This was after the release of the public protector‘s highly critical report on the SABC.
There were also instances, the former board members claimed, of then board chairman Ellen Tshabalala chiding then CEO Lulama Makhobo in the presence of junior employees.
Ronnie Lubisi, a former board member who also sat on the corporation‘s audit committee, said one of the meetings Muthambi attended was in or around July 2014.
“Among the matters the minister raised was that the then acting COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng had been acting for too long. She suggested that we appoint him permanently. At that stage we were dealing with the public protector‘s report, which had made some unfavourable findings against Motsoeneng,” said Lubisi.
“[At that meeting, former board chairman] Ellen Tshabalala and Motsoeneng mentioned that the major problem of the board was specifically myself and [Bongani] Khumalo,” said Lubisi.
Another former board member, Vusumzi Mavuso, said Muthambi “just happened to be” at a meeting that took place from 6pm to 11pm.
“It was a coincidence that was just too good to be true,” he said.
Makhobo said the situation at the SABC had deteriorated to the point at which board members got involved in “very unbecoming
“There indeed were a great deal of fights. And fights would spill over into the media, which was hugely embarrassing,” she said.
She said there were board members who seemed to “surround Motsoeneng very tightly”.
Makhobo said those seen as outsiders were considered “the Lulama board”, which made her very
She said she was “undermined” by Motsoeneng, which she found “unbearable”.
Muthambi is expected to testify at the hearing next week.