2008

2008

1 January 2008: Mbeki appoints the new board, led by Khanyisile Mkonza and Christine Qunta, amid protests by Cosatu and pro-Zuma supporters in the ANC.

20 January 2008: The FXI issues a statement expressing its concern about the failure by the SABC to broadcast the Bens Cashdan/Redi Direko documentary, Mbeki Unauthorised.

The FXI is deeply disturbed about recent reports regarding the SABC’s decision not to flight a documentary on South African President Thabo Mbeki scheduled for last week Wednesday. Apparently the documentary takes a critical look at the President’s governance style, including what many commentators have referred to as a growing centralisation of government. Several newspaper reports have quoted sources stating that the documentary was canned shortly before it was due to be screened after a member of SABC’s management had an infomal meeting with the Communications Department of the Presidency, where concern was expressed about the documentary’s contents.

The explanation given by the SABC for canning the Mbeki film raises more questions than answers. It also confirms the broadcaster’s growing tendency, of late, to refuse to explain controversial editorial decisions on the basis that these decisions are its own business. No-one expects the SABC to engage in mass consultation before making controversial judgement calls, but there needs to be more transparency in how these judgement calls are made. Ultimately, the SABC itself is responsible for ensuring that commissioned programmes jump the hoops of internal approval before being flighted and viewers should not be made to pay for something that was within the SABC’s control. The documentary was also advertised during the course of the week before the day that it was to be flighted. This action indicates the SABC’s growing disrespect towards the public it is supposed to be servicing. So much for the talk of the SABC shifting from being a public broadcaster that is inward-oriented and self-assessing to a broadcaster that is citizen-focused. This shift is explained in the SABC’s new strategic outlook document recently unveiled by the CEO Adv. Dali Mpofu.

30 January 2008: John Perlman quits SABC.

3 February 2008: The Sunday Independent reports that SABC CEO Dali Mpofu has been summoned to Luthuli House.

ANC leaders were reportedly unhappy with the national broadcaster for becoming embroiled in the succession debate between Mbeki and Jacob Zuma, his successor as ANC president, and taking a side which manifested itself in its reporting.

"It was never the intention of the ANC to make the national broadcaster resemble the SABC under apartheid," the source said. "Individuals within the organisation took it upon themselves to act for the political masters."

The ANC source confirmed that Mpofu was summoned to Luthuli House last month and told in no uncertain terms by the leadership, including Kgalema Motlanthe, the ANC deputy president, that the party was concerned about the organisation's taking sides in the battle between Mbeki and Zuma. The party was embarrassed by the broadcaster's bias (towards one candidate, Mbeki) and the lack of credibility of news and current affairs programmes.

3 February 2008: City Press reports that the SABC stands to lose millions as a result of losing an arbitration case relating to soccer broadcasting rights

City Press 3/2/08

SABC might lose millions

S’Busiso Mseleku

THE SABC stands to lose millions as a result of losing the arbitration case against the Premier Soccer League over soccer television broadcast rights.

The public broadcaster reportedly made close to R2 billion over the last five years that they held the exclusive rights.

But now they are in no position to make that amount as they have to foot a huge legal bill for the two High Court interdicts they instituted against the league and the arbitration process.

They lost the arbitration and advocate Chris Loxton ordered them to pay all the legal costs, which are estimated at R10 million.

Previously the SABC paid the PSL R70 million per annum but soon recouped the money by selling Wednesday night games to SuperSport for R35 million per season.

They also sold broadcast rights to sponsors SA Breweries (R22 million), Absa (R15 million), Telkom (R10 million) and the South African Airways (R5 million) per season.

The public broadcaster also charged R35 000 for each 30 seconds advert during soccer matches, which saw them rake in about R2.6 million from adverts for each game.

This totalled R226 million in the 2005/2006 season where they showed a total of 105 PSL matches.

This saw the SABC make R350 million per annum from the broadcast of soccer matches over five years.

However, the shoe is now on the other foot as they have to part with R120 million per year for five years to SuperSport, which now holds the rights, having purchased them for R1.6 billion.

The SABC is entitled to 143 matches, including finals, semi-finals and derbies. They will, however, recoup some of the money from advertising as they now charge R65 000 per 30 seconds advert.

PSL chairperson Irvin Khoza was excited this week as he announced the arbitrator’s findings.

“The PSL is delighted to announce that, as expected, Chris Loxton SC, the arbitrator in the SABC/PSL matter, has dismissed all of the complaints made by the SABC against the PSL which were the subject of various applications to the High Court for Interdicts and this arbitration with costs,” he said.

Since selling the rights to SuperSport, the PSL has made huge strides jumping to number seven in the world behind Germany, Spain, Italy, England, France and Portugal on television revenue.

The league has become number one in the world on content control, rights management and graphics.

This week Khoza praised the people who played a role in the securing of the rights from the negotiating team of Kaizer Motaung, Trevor Phillips and Mato Madlala.

“I would like to thank our broadcast partner SuperSport International and in particular Mr Imtiaz Patel, the executive committee and more importantly I would like to thank Peter Mancer who has been one of the key players in the resolution of this matter and in the negotiation of all our broadcast and event sponsorships.”

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago’s could not be reached for comment at the time of going to press

15 February 2008: Masters student Cheryl Abboo releases her thesis on the SABC

17 February 2008: The SABC hires four bodyguards to protect its head of internal audits, Elsje Oosthuizen, from being harmed or killed by high-ranking officials being investigated for fraud and corruption.

According to City Press newspaper Oosthuizen is investigating influential individuals, including a well-known station manager, a marketing manager and a top SABC lawyer.

25 February 2008: Cosatu is unhappy about Mbeki-appointed SABC board

26 February 2008: Mpofu tells parliament that a verbal warning for Zikalala on the blacklist scandal was sufficient sanction

February 2008: ANC MPs grill Mpofu over the public broadcaster's perceived bias against Zuma.

March 2008: Cosatu threatens to take Mbeki's government to court over the "controversial" appointment of the new SABC board.

March 2008: Empire magazine reports that SABC International has unsustainable operating costs of R200-million a year.

4 March 2008: In a memo to the SABC, labour lawyer Puke Maserumule writes of the order by CEO Dali Mpofu that Hlaudi Motsoeneng be reinstated after an instruction to this effect by Free State Premier, Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri: “In the absence of objectively justifiable reasons for his (Motsoeneng) re-instatement, it will become almost impossible for consultant (SABC) to discipline or dismiss other employees who commit similar offenses to those committed by Motsoeneng, “Their morale will in all probability be negatively affected by his re-instatement, and this may be worse if he returns to Bloemfontein and more so if those who testified against him are required to report to him.” http://152.111.1.87/argief/berigte/citypress/2008/05/12/CP/5/MseHlaudi.html

April 2008: Dali Mpofu concedes that the public broadcaster is under political pressure while addressing a conference on media and electoral democracy held in Pretoria by the Independent Electoral Commission.

ANC parliamentary caucus calls for the suspension of four board members: Qunta, Gloria Serobe, Andile Mbeki and Peter Vundla.

A confidential memorandum, which is highly critical of Mpofu, is leaked to the media.

ANC MPs, SABC board and management appear in parliament and point fingers at one another.

The National Assembly's communications committee - mainly ANC members - passes a motion of no confidence in the board, accusing it of being responsible for the leakage of damning information against Mpofu.

15 April 2008: The SACP expresses concern about the bitter divisions within the SABC board

21 April 2008: Helen Zille tells the Cape Town Press Club of the link between the Regional Editor of the SABC in Cape Town, Jeffrey Twala and Zithulele Twala, his attorney brother and the secretary to the Erasmus Commission. The Erasmus Commission was ruled to have been illegally constituted for political gain by the ANC’s then Western Cape leader, Ebrahim Rasool.

“It is no coincidence that Zithulele Twala, the Commission's secretary, is the brother of Mzukisi Twala, the regional editor of SABC television news. I think it is fair to describe SABC's television coverage of the Commission as "selective" to put it mildly. But its reach is enormous. The Commission will prove to be a poison-dripping tap, over many months, leaving a lethal lake that will be impossible to mop up in the course of my testimony. And I will be overcome by the fumes as I try to do so. But that, of course, is the purpose. And it is pure power abuse.”

29 April 2008: A Business Day article by Edward West corroborates the findings of the Sisulu/Marcus Commission of Inquiry which urged CEO Dali Mpofu to investigate human rights abuses and partisan party political reporting by the Regional Editor of the SABC’s Western Cape office, Jeffrey Twala.

Broadcaster's Cape Bureau 'Still Mismanaged, With Bias'

THE SABC's powerful Cape Town bureau continues to be dogged by allegations of mismanagement and politically skewed reporting in favour of an African National Congress (ANC) faction in Western Cape - even though an independent board of enquiry, under former CEO Zwelakhe Sisulu and lawyer Gilbert Marcus, last year apparently recommended that the public broadcaster address the problems.

Last week Business Day obtained information from former journalists, who did not wish their names to be published, that provides context to these concerns and which details some of the reasons that have allegedly led to the SABC's Cape Town newsroom losing at least one senior news staffer every three months since 1999.

One former SABC journalist claims the situation is not much different in other SABC newsrooms. Attempts since Thursday to get SABC comment on these specific allegations were unsuccessful. A request for an interview with SABC board chairman Khanyisiwe Mkonza earlier last week, was denied.

A request for comment from the SABC's Cape Town editor, Jeffrey Twala, was referred to the SABC public spokesman Kaizer Kganyago, who would only say that many recent allegations about the SABC in the media were inaccurate. Some of the alleged mismanagement in the Cape Town bureau includes details of "relentless verbal abuse of staffers" and the "way in which Twala manipulates the news for political gain".

In the first half of last year, "three more reporters resigned, in large measure due to Twala not allowing them to do stories detrimental to the ANC, in forcing them to constantly do stories that attack the DA (Democratic Alliance) and also stories that cast Western Cape premier Ebrahim Rasool in a bad light so as to benefit (his pro-Africanist party opponent) Mcebisi Skwatsha".

The information provides examples of alleged news bias, such as "when the wife of Sheval Arendse, then with the DA, was convicted of fraud, the story was covered on a daily basis at the instructions of Twala. However, when the wife of Skwatsha of the ANC was convicted of theft, Twala did not allow a single story to be broadcast."

Complaints about the political bias of the SABC's news coverage has stretched from Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), to opposition parties, to civic organisations such as the Freedom of Expression Institute, to even the ANC itself.

For example, ANC MP Lumka Yengeni indicated the party's unhappiness about the SABC on February 13 when she said in Parliament that "we do not want the SABC to be the lapdog of government or of the ANC or of any other party for that matter ... we want them to be a proper public broadcaster that informs and entertains all our people."

The Broadcasting, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers' Union said in its submission to the Sisulu-Marcus commission: "The overarching issues which have led to the unprecedented loss of staff since Mr Twala took control of the Sea Point news room some eight years are a) human rights abuses and b) the daily contravention for partisan party political reasons of the SABC's de facto code of journalistic conduct”.

30 April 2008: Suzanne Vos tells Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communication about the abuses of Jeffrey Twala, SABC Regional Editor, Western Cape.

May 2008: Mpofu rejects "insinuations" in a Sunday paper report that there was a cabinet plot against him. Two days later, Mpofu suspends Zikalala. The Mbeki-aligned SABC board then suspends Mpofu and says that there is, in fact, a cabinet plot against him.

6 May 2008: ANC Secretary General, Gwede Mantashe, addressed a press conference at Luthuli House on the outcomes of the ANC national working committee meeting and said: “We want a non-partisan SABC, the one that is free from factions and free from Dali or Snuki influences, an SABC that can truly serve the nation.”

10 May 2008: Makhudu Sefara of City Press reveals the background to the subsequent rise to power of Hlaudi Motsoeneng and how he proved to be the catalyst in the subsequent fall-out between the Mbeki-supporting board and Snuki Zikalala.

A source said the fuse started burning when Mpofu approached Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri for help in dealing with the board.

She allegedly told Mpofu she would protect him from the board if he helped her achieve what the previous board chairperson, Eddie Funde, could not help her with: the re-employment of Hlaudi Motsoeneng. This was denied by Matsepe-Casaburri’s spokesperson, Joe Makhafola.

Motsoeneng, formerly an executive producer on Lesedi FM, allegedly ensured that the minister was regularly on air when he worked for the station.

“Now that this man is no longer at Lesedi, the minister is hardly featured. Her popularity is taking a knock and she wants him back.

“Lesedi caters mostly for the minister’s constituency of the Free State. Does she want Motsoeneng back in order to revive her profile? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that one,” said a source.

Mpofu, in his drive to warm up to the new ANC leaders and seek allies against the board, also met with treasurer-general Mathews Phosa.

Phosa allegedly asked Mpofu why he should help him if the SABC refused to re-employ Motsoeneng simply because he was seen as a Zuma supporter?

Mpofu apparently realised that Motsoeneng stood between the protection he might get from politicians and his evident demise.

He allegedly ordered Zikalala to re-employ Motsoeneng – an order Zikalala refused to obey.

Phosa reportedly also met with Zikalala, who gave him documents relating to Motsoeneng’s dismissal as proof that Zuma had nothing to do with his reluctance to re-employ him.

Phosa told City Press he was not able to comment on anything related to Motsoeneng because he had acted on the latter’s behalf as a defence lawyer.

However, The Star reported this week that Phosa had denied talking to Zikalala about Motsoeneng or receiving documents from him.

“Mpofu saw Zikalala as a stumbling block to his project to garner support. Zikalala had to go,” said a source.

An insider at the SABC said: “Dali asked Zikalala during a group executive meeting on Tuesday how far he was in re-hiring Motsoeneng. “Zikalala said he was not far as he had referred the matter to board chairperson Khanyisile Mkhonza.

“Dali then allegedly said: ‘You can’t do that’. Snuki said: ‘You can’t stop me’. It was tense. Snuki said he had a right to do an upward referral. Dali said not on a matter like this. Head of human resources Pat Naves interrupted and told Dali that Snuki had a right to an upward referral on all issues.”

It was alleged that Mpofu brought up the topic of Zikalala giving Phosa the documents relating to Motsoeneng’s dismissal. Mpofu then abruptly told Zikalala to clear his office and hand over his access cards pending an investigation.

The problem between Mpofu and Zikalala was that Mpofu had allegedly switched allegiance from the Mbeki camp to the new kings of Luthuli House at a rate his subordinates could not cope with.

“This change was so sudden he shocked and alienated his allies,” said a source

15 May 2008: Charles Leonard, news editor at Business Day and a former news editor at the SABC during the tenure of Snuki Zikalala, writes about the fear that SABC staffers had of Zikalala who was cited before the Truth and Reconciliation commission for human rights abuses. The fear of Zikalala was followed by the fear of Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

http://www.businessday.co.za/Articles/TarkArticle.aspx?ID=3216022

15/5/2008

Commander Zikalala and SABC’s corridors of fear

Charles Leonard

BLOEMFONTEIN, are you there? Yes! Cape Town? We’re here! Nelspruit …?” It was Monday, May 3 2004, and we were packed into an SABC news boardroom in Auckland Park, listening to the crackly ritual of checking if our colleagues in the other regions were connected for line-conference. The SABC bosses had waited for the elections in the previous month to be done and dusted before they announced the Commander’s second coming to the corporation as news MD, so as not to make him an election issue.

Even his acolytes among us news executives looked worried as he walked in, no longer wearing his famous broad-lapel leather coat that we saw in all the pieces to camera he did in the formulaic “workers say, management says” stories when he was still a labour reporter.

Now Dr Snuki Zikalala was dressed in an expensive suit that looked a number or two too large over his shoulders. His glasses and haircut were trendier and I’m sure he must have had voice training when he was at the labour department as spokesman for “my minister”, as he fondly kept calling his boss of the two previous years. He wasn’t the only target of Zikalala’s affection.

“I’ll see to it that my president gets covered all the time!” he said, with his voice shooting up several octaves, which happened when he got excited. He repeated it, but — and this is where the voice coaching must have kicked in — this time with a steadier, more measured and deeper voice.

As reporter and as boss in his first stint, before the previous board under Vincent Maphai got rid of him, Zikalala had a reputation as a hard worker. “People must work hard — there’s no time for people that don’t work … they’ll be out! … they will be out.”

This time, he glared with cold-fish eyes at his audience of news managers: “The board appointed me — I report to them and they will fire me if I don’t do my work.”

He didn’t need to lay it on much more than that. People fearfully remembered his previous spell as boss, enforcer and chief propagandist all too well.

Zikalala, who had apparently developed a taste for golf while he was at the labour department, could work on his handicap and didn’t need be there all hours any more. His tactic was simple, and worked like a good horror movie. You didn’t need to see the monster, because the mere suggestion was enough to petrify otherwise stable and confident journalists, and made them behave.

Then there were the “1984”-style spies and informers (many of them shameless remnants of the apartheid days, when they served Botha, Matanzima and Buthelezi with similar gusto), who would run to the Commander if they noticed any dissent, or would use his name to get government propaganda on air, even if it didn’t come directly from him or the Union Buildings: “Snuki said you must ….” was all that was needed.

But the best thing for the Stalinist Zikalala was the new SABC board: it was interventionist in the worst sense of the word and shared his “vision” of what the broadcaster should be and do. Unlike the Maphai board, the one run by Eddie Funde simply didn’t give a damn what any outsiders said or thought about it, or Zikalala. They also had no proper broadcasters or journalists among them who could say, “Hey chief, that’s not how you cover news!”

And how they covered news! TV news boss Jimi Matthews, who was a proper broadcaster, fought hard to at least maintain a world-class technical standard. He also tried to ensure that some of the bright young reporters got mentored. But Zikalala and his gang simply wore him down, by endless meetings, back-stabbing and interference. In the end, Matthews did what most proper journalists did: first he joined SABC Sport and then he finally left the SABC. With Matthews gone, there was nobody senior on the input side to ensure journalistic and technical quality. With some exceptions, the standards dropped radically, with blue pictures, jump cuts, fuzzy pictures, poor audio and irrelevant washed-out file pictures the order of the day, not to forget those Snuki-aping singsong sign-offs. The journalism became even worse.

I left quicker than Matthews — two months after Zikalala’s arrival I was gone. His one big ally on the board, Christine Qunta, who was also head of the board subcommittee for human relations, gave me a call for my exit interview. When I told her I left was because I was scared of Zikalala, and didn’t work very well under those circumstances, she laughed a big belly laugh down the line. I hope it was because Qunta thought I was joking, although I wasn’t.

A lot has been written over the years about the exodus of good journalists from the SABC and the reasons they left. Many would concur that it was fear that made them quit. Ironically, Zikalala has run the place like the apparatchiks did under the apartheid regime: by suppressing any independent, creative thought and by toeing the party line.

So now Zikalala has been suspended. Say the unlikely happens and the Commander gets his marching orders again, like he did in 2002, can the SABC become the public broadcaster it briefly was under people such as Zwelakhe Sisulu, Barney Mthombothi, Allister Sparks and Matthews?

I worked under all of them at SAfm and TV News. I can vouch for the fact that the SABC can be a great place for a journalist to work for — it had great resources, lots of professionals and ample training during those spells. We told South Africans the stories of their transition in a fair, informative and intelligent way. We weren’t perfect, but because of the creative, journalistic environments we worked in, one could hear and see the commitment to public broadcasting.

So can it get back to that? A few radical changes will have to happen before the terminally ill SABC can recover.

The board must be replaced. It has allowed the likes of Zikalala to destroy most of the broadcaster’s credibility by turning it into a propaganda machine — and a substandard one at that.

The board has also interfered in inappropriate ways, going way beyond its mandate. We need a board staffed by people with relevant broadcasting, journalistic and financial knowledge. The politicised way the board is appointed — with the president having the final say — has to be changed to get the best people for the job, not the best friends for the job.

The same has to apply to the corporation’s management. A case in point is the way DStv ran circles around group CEO Dali Mpofu during the local soccer rights negotiations. Part of the SABC’s mandate is to serve its consumers, including, in this case, the many who cannot afford satellite television.

The African National Congress proposal at Polokwane that the SABC’s funding model has to change radically is a very good one, making the corporation less reliant on commercial forces to be able to fulfil its public broadcaster’s mandate. But a much larger contribution from the state’s coffers should not equate to a much larger say by the politicians in how the SABC operates. A way has to be found to keep politicians off the journalists’ backs. That is perhaps the most difficult part of all, but it seems there are workable mechanisms in other parts of the world that can minimise meddling.

The news management must be purged of party hacks and replaced by proper news people, in the process exorcising the ghosts of apartheid and Stalinism. It worked — for a while — post-apartheid and it can work again.

Training has to take priority again, like it did under Sisulu. There has to be large-scale hiring and rehiring of competent broadcasters and journalists, with young reporters with potential coached and mentored to become the best.

For the sake of the committed men and women left at the SABC who still believe in public broadcasting, I hope the broadcaster can be rejuvenated.

For the sake of SA’s young democracy, I pray so. We need a quality broadcaster now more than ever, to keep us properly informed during one of SA’s most challenging decades.

Leonard is news editor.

4 June 2008: The Zuma faction of the ANC starts its move to get rid of the Mbeki-appointed SABC board. Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri calls for a review of the laws governing the SABC board, while an ANC MP has demands a commission of inquiry into the functioning of the corporation.

The ANC likened the public broadcaster to the Boswell Wilkie and Moscow circuses.

However, DA MP Dene Smuts said there was a "political purge launched against this board".

She said: "Arbitrary removal (of the board) is not possible under administrative justice, it is not possible under our constitution."

The debate came hardly a day after the SABC board failed in its second attempt to suspend group chief executive Dali Mpofu.

The Johannesburg high court ruled that Mpofu's suspension was unprocedural.

10 June 2008: SOS coalition established

25 June 2008: The Zuma faction of the ANC moves to get rid of the Mbeki-appointed SABC board that was appointed by President Thabo Mbeki late in 2007, shortly after he was ousted as ANC president.

Some ANC MPs claim Mbeki's preferred candidates were foisted on them.

ANC MPs known to be close to the Zuma leadership and supported by Cosatu, the SA Communist Party and the ANC Youth League, have since campaigned for the board to resign.

27 June 2008: The ANC uses its substantial majority in parliament to push through a memorandum which will eventually enable it to dismiss the Mbeki-nominated board.

The memorandum, introduced by Ismail Vadi, the chairperson of the National Assembly's communications committee, proposed that the committee would draw up amendments to the Broadcasting Act that would allow MPs to recommend the dismissal of the entire board.

The move was opposed by the Democratic Alliance and the Inkatha Freedom Party, with DA MP Dene Smuts accusing the ANC of wanting to perpetrate a "naked political purge" at the SABC.

23 August 2008: Speaking at a seminar of the Human Right Commission, Zikalala says the SABC would not have broadcast stories about Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang’s behaviour during her hospital treatment, or on her conviction for theft for stealing a watch from an unconscious patient — because the public broadcaster only carries stories that aid the country’s development. “Publishing such a story is disrespectful,” he says.

26 August 2008: Robert Mugabe is shouted down in parliament in Zimbabwe. E.tv headlines the story, the SABC shows nothing even though it had access to the feed.

August 2008: ANC MP, Lumka Yengeni (then wife of convicted fraudster Tony Yengeni) in a debate in Parliament on the Broadcasting Amendment Bill said: “Who should take responsibility for the exoneration of Snuki Zikalala, without facing disciplinary processes?” Despte this, Zikalala blamed his eventual departure from the SABC when his contract was not renewed, blames this on racist whites.

1 September 2008: The Natal Mercury reports that Snuki Zikalala ( a fervent Mbeki acolyte) is accused of removing two political reporters from covering Jacob Zuma because of their apparent allegiance to the ANC president. Tshepo Ikaneng and Mzwandile Mbeje - confirmed that they had been instructed not to report on Zuma.

7 September 2008: The Post reveals that dismissed and then re-instated SABC reporter, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, is to sue Snuki Zikalala for R1-million claiming that Zikalala defamed him. Nothing ever comes of the threat.

Snuki Zikalala, the controversial managing director of news at the SABC, is being sued for R1 million in damages by Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the Bloemfontein broadcaster accused of faking his curriculum vitae.

Motsoeneng wants an apology from Zikalala for defaming him, claiming Zikalala belittled him and portrayed him as a violent, uneducated person.

The R1-million summons was served on Zikalala a week ago, coinciding with the newsman's return to the SABC after his suspension in May for leaking SABC documents.

Zikalala told The Sunday Independent on Saturday that he would defend the action and that it was not true that Motsoeneng had been targeted because he was a Zuma supporter.

Neither was there any substance, said Zikalala, to allegations that he has a hotline to the presidency.

Asked if he were a supporter of President Thabo Mbeki, Zikalala said: "I am supporter of the South African constitution and, as such, believe the office of the president should be respected.

"I have said that the president of South Africa, who is democratically elected, should be accorded the same treatment as other heads of state," Zikalala said.

In court papers, advocate Michael Murphy said Zikalala had refused to provide his client, Motsoeneng, with the leaked documents on the grounds that these were privileged, private, confidential and not relevant to the disciplinary proceedings that had been launched against Motsoeneng two years ago.

In the papers, Motsoeneng said he was fired as Lesedi FM executive producer following a disciplinary hearing in 2006, but the doubt about his credentials was leaked by Zikalala in May, when Dali Mpofu, the suspended SABC group chief executive, suspended Zikalala.

Mpofu was suspended a day after his action against Zikalala.

After a series of internal inquiries and an application to a high court to order that an impartial arbitrator be appointed to hear an appeal against his dismissal, Motsoeneng got his job back.

As the Mpofu-Zikalala hostilities worsened, it emerged that Motsoeneng was the reason for Mpofu falling out with Zikalala.

The latest court action is another blow to Zikalala, whose return to the news hotseat was mired in controversy after it emerged that the board's claims that he had been exonerated in the labour court were false.

13 October 2008: The ANC backs down from its insistence that the speaker of the National Assembly should have a say in the appointment of SABC board members, and agrees to change the Broadcasting Amendment Bill to remove this power.

ANC chief whip Khotso Khumalo said the status quo would be reinstated. The amended bill would be returned to the assembly's communications committee which would accept the NCOP amendments. Once adopted by the assembly and the NCOP, the bill would be sent to President Kgalema Motlanthe for signature.

The bill provides for the removal of directors either individually or as a collective. Khumalo said the ANC wanted this because the behaviour of board members continued to confirm the party's view that they were unsuitable for the role of directing the national broadcaster.

"We will continue our battle with the board because they have proved themselves worse than what we thought they were. The more we delay matters, the more we will delay taking action on the board," Khumalo said.

Once the bill became law -- which Khumalo hoped would happen before the end of next month -- the party would proceed with its vote of no-confidence in the board. Under the new law SABC directors can be removed on the recommendation of the National Assembly, acting on a finding of a parliamentary committee.

ANC members of the communications committee have been at loggerheads with the board since last year when they were forced by former president Thabo Mbeki to include the names of three of his supporters on the short list of candidates for the board, namely Christine Qunta, Gloria Serobe and Andile Mbeki. Linda Ensor – Business Day

6 November 2008: The SABC is setting up the office of a complaints officer who will deal with all complaints submitted in writing by political parties within 72 hours of submission. This follows a special meeting of the SABC Board News Committee held in Johannesburg in which the board reaffirmed its commitment to its news division's unfettered editorial independence.

9 November 2008: The Sunday Independent reports that Gwede Mantashe, the ANC's secretary-general, and Jessie Duarte, its spokesperson, met Gab Mampone, the acting group chief executive of the SABC, and Snuki Zikalala, the corporation's managing director for news. They were critical of the SABC's post-Polokwane coverage of the ANC, and expressed alarm at the way the SABC was portraying Jacob Zuma and anger at the lack of coverage of the government's service delivery projects

18 November 2008: The chairperson of the SABC board, Kanyi Mkhonza, presents the Corporation’s Annual Report for the period April 2007 to March 2008 to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communication. She said that the SABC had received a qualified audit and that the board needed the unqualified support of the committee so that it could address the financial crisis the SABC found itself in. She said that support had not been forthcoming.

Early in March 2008 SABC management presented the Board with a proposed budget deficit of R600 million for the financial year 2008-9; the board refused to accept this proposal and told management to review and reprioritise the proposed budget. This was done and approved on March 25.

Mkonza said that in April she wrote a memorandum "expressing grave concerns about the unhealthy state of finances of at the SABC. I then convened an extraordinary meeting of the non-executive directors of the board to deal with this situation and hold the GCEO accountable for all that the board was concerned about."

"What followed was a barrage of attacks on the board including being hauled in front of the committee, print and electronic media attacks eventually culminating in the vote of no confidence expressed by the members of this committee on the board. This was followed by concerted and unrelenting attacks on the integrity of the board," Mkonza said.

"Despite all attempts of the Board to prevent the implosion of the SABC, we did not get the support that we needed - at that stage we needed to put all hands on deck to put the SABC back in its rightful place, as the sole public broadcaster in the country.

"The Board needed the unwavering support of the portfolio committee... because we were raising and dealing with the very issues that the portfolio committee has been raising for a long time in its oversight role over the SABC," Mkonza added.

She also warned that there is no relief in sight for March 2009. She, however, reiterated the Board's commitment to a clean, unqualified audit report that is fully in concert with the noble principles underpinning the values of the public broadcaster such as: objectivity, accuracy, fairness, impartiality and balance.

Bizcommunity

27 November 2008: The ANC calls on the SABC to 'resist temptation' in its coverage of political events or face 'corroding' it’s standing in the public domain. This, after the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal claimed that an SABC journalist had been suspended for not covering a meeting of the Congress of the People (Cope), a party formed an ANC breakaway group. The meeting was expected to be addressed by Cope chairman Terror Lekota.

30 November 2008: In one of the first signs of the SABC’s impending bankruptcy the Sunday Argus reports that the Corporation’s London office had so little funding that staff were in danger of being evicted because the rent had not been paid and the reporter did not even have a landline telephone.