10 January 2011: The SABC head of news Amrit Manga is demoted and replaced by Thembu Mthembu the head of current affairs programming at the SABC
14 January 2011: The SABC has fired its political editor, Xolani Xundu, the broadcaster reported on Thursday.
It said Xundu had pleaded guilty to charges of “non-compliance with the duties of his contract and bringing the corporation into disrepute”.
In December, Xundu’s future hung in the balance after a recommendation to sack him was submitted to a disciplinary hearing panel over his poor handling of the coverage of the ANC’s national general council in Durban in September.
The inquiry was said to have been started by SABC head of news Phil Molefe, who was apparently unimpressed by technical glitches that hampered live transmission of the conference.
The conference rooms were separated from the media centre by a long walk and strict security checkpoints - restricting media coverage. But some of the restrictions did not extend to the SABC, which was perceived to be “one of our own” by the ruling party.
According to sources within the SABC at the time, Xundu was taken aback by the hearing, saying the delays were due to technical problems and not part of his responsibility. A source said that as a political editor, Xundu’s duties were confined to assigning and briefing reporters.
Xundu said on Thursday night he “saw it coming” and that “his decision was based on some shenanigans and vendettas by certain people”.
He would appeal against the decision and take it up with the necessary authorities. The charges against him were on the basis that he was responsible for everything that went wrong, he said.
19 January 2011: SABC group CEO Solly Mokoetle resigns with immediate effect.
19 January 2011: The DA shadow minister on communications, Natasha Michaels welcomes the resignation of Solly Mokoetle and calls on the chairman of the SABC board chairman, Dr Ben Ngubane, to follow suit.
“It would perhaps serve the SABC better if Dr Ngubane were to resign too,"
Mokoetle got off to the worst possible start when appointed at the end of 2009 by saying that he was accountable first to [then] communications minister Siphiwe Nyanda, and not the SABC board.
"He set about proving that by by-passing the board on a number of occasions, including effecting a number of dubious and illegal appointments along with the current chairperson Dr Ben Ngubane”
22 January 2011: City Press reveals that Solly Mokoetle has been paid R3.4 million to leave the SABC after just one year of his five year contract. This is confirmed two days later by Communications Minister Roy Padayachie.
24 January 2011: Judge Neels Claassen delivers an excoriating judgment in the Johannesburg High Court against Zikalala, Dali Mpofu and the Mbeki-appointed board about their role in the blacklisting scandal
26 January 2011: The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa issues a press release in which it compares former SABC head of news Snuki Zikalala to Nazi Germany's infamous propagandist Joseph Goebbels. Numsa's spokesperson Castro Ngobese said Zikalala's actions "were a ghost resurrection" of Goebbels to "poison the minds of South Africans and to silence dissent in the public discourse".
The Communication Workesrs Union says Snuki Zikalala fills them with disgust.
27 January 2011: Sanef welcomes the exposure in court of political manipulation by the SABC in favour of the African National Congress in 2006.
“Sanef welcomes this searing exposure of the dishonesty of (Snuki) Zikalala, (Dali) Mpofu and the official SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago as a vindication of the complaint of the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI),” said Sanef media freedom committee chairperson Thabo Leshilo in a statement.
The FXI requested the review of a dismissal of complaints by Icasa regarding the SABC blacklisting certain political commentators as well as news manipulation.
25 February 2011: Phumelele Ntombela-Nzimande, one of the highest paid employees of the SABC, is told that her position is being made redundant and that her position no longer fits in with the SABC's new strategic turnaround plan. She is the wife of the minister of higher education, Blade Nzimande. According to the SABC annual report her annual salary was R1,7-million. The Mail & Guardian reports that she walked away with a retrenchment package of about R1,8-million, which covered the 14 months left on her contract, plus benefits.
27 February 2011: Thami Ntenteni, the former spokesman for then deputy president Thabo Mbeki who was controversially hired by former SABC chief executive Peter Matlare the moment he was released from jail after serving time for drunken driving and culpable homicide, is one of several senior managers axed by the SABC.
4 March 2011: The SABC is described by the BCCSA as unprofessional”, “duplicitous”, “reckless” and “deceptive”, after the SABC’s disgraceful conduct in airing Robert Gumede’s attack on the Mail & Guardian and the credibility of investigative journalist Sam Sole.
25 March 2011: The Mail & Guardian reports that six SABC staff members were suspended after being captured on camera in a “sting”, in which one of them allegedly asked for a R200000 bribe in return for a promotional sports production contract.
25 March 2011: The Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) orders the SABC to broadcast a stinging reprimand on prime-time television for failing to give the Mail & Guardian an adequate right of reply to a news bulletin that alleged corruption and racism on the part of a senior M&G reporter.
31 March 2011: IOL reports that the head of the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) had told parliament that the unit’s investigation of the SABC had uncovered “serious criminality”.
At the SABC the SIU uncovered that between September, 2007 and March last year, about 20 employees had undeclared interests in firms that did business with the broadcaster to the tune of R2.4bn. This follows an earlier auditor-general investigation that uncovered corruption involving 20 SABC employees to the tune of R3.4m.
11 May 2011: SABC board receives a report revealing that Justice Ndaba’s claims about his university degrees are false. Despite this, the ANC-appointed board under chairman Ben Ngubane appoints him as acting company secretary from July 4 to August 4 and he is still signing official documents as head of strategy on 5 October, 2011
11 May 2011: Media Monitoring Africa analyses the SABC 2 Morning Live programme just days before the local government election and finds it blatantly biased in favour of the ANC. Its report said: “It can be concluded that an overall assessment of the programme, reveals bias, clearly favouring the ANC. This is due to the uncritical coverage, as well as the prominent and overwhelming airtime afforded to the ANC, to the virtual exclusion all other parties.”
17 April 2011: SAPA reports that the Congress of the people (COPE) will lodge an official complaint with the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA against the SABC.
This is on account of the public broadcaster’s “editorial censoring” of Cope’s election programme and in particular the party leader Mosiuoa Lekota’s programme, Cope whip Juli Kilian said.
The SABC would also be reported to the Independent Communications Authority of SA for transgressions of its public broadcasting licence agreement, she said.
Cope was the third largest political party in the country and was contesting the third highest number of seats (5929) in municipalities across South Africa in the May 18 municipal elections.
“There can therefore be no doubt that Cope is one of only three parties contesting the local government elections on a national scale and is entitled to equitable coverage during election programmes and during prime-time television and radio broadcasts,” Kilian said.
Apart from instances when the SABC ignored Cope events and campaign activities, even in those instances where reporters and camera crews did cover Cope events, the SABC’s “editorial censors” either ignored the inputs or relegated the events to fleeting coverage on off-prime time news bulletins.
“Mr Lekota’s sound bites and interviews were largely censored out or limited to split second flashes without carrying the essence of the interview or message involved. On occasion Afrikaans sound bites were screened in Sotho news casts or vice versa.”
Kilian listed a number of examples of “editorial bias logged over the past three days”.
These included a media conference addressed by Lekota on the murder of Andries Tatane in Ficksburg.
Notwithstanding the fact that Tatane was a Cope member, coverage of the media conference in Bloemfontein as well as the live interview recorded by SABC TV was “edited out of prime-time news bulletins”.
Notwithstanding the presence of a SABC TV crew in Petrusville during Lekota’s programme in the Northern Cape on Friday, no footage appeared on the SABC’s prime time news casts on Friday evening.
SAFM staged a live election broadcast from the North West Province where Cope was contesting 565 seats, without affording Cope an opportunity to participate in the election programme.
Saturday’s SABC news prime time bulletins contained extensive footage of the Freedom Front Plus and ANC, but only a brief glimpse of Cope’s manifesto launch in Umtata, again censoring out Lekota’s recorded interview, she said.
“Editorial bias and/or prejudice, ignores the fact that Cope is potentially the leading party or senior coalition partner in the majority of municipalities in the Northern Cape as well as some urban centres such as Mandela Bay Metro and others.
“Since regional parties such as the Inkatha Freedom Party, the United Democratic Movement and the FF Plus – essentially a small niche party – were afforded live coverage of their election manifestoes Cope, as a national player, will insist on live coverage on SABC TV of an election event to be arranged within the next three weeks,” Kilian said.
15 May 2011: Three days before the local government elections the SABC devoted two hours of live coverage to the ANC’s Siyanqoba Rally held at FNB Stadium but refused to give coverage to the rallies held by other parties that day. The DA’s James Selfe, in reaction, said:
The conduct of the public broadcaster during an election period is regulated by the provisions set out in the Independent Broadcasting Authority Act (IBAA). That Act states that the SABC is required to "treat all political parties equitably" and, importantly, that "each broadcasting service should be consistent in its treatment of contesting parties and of conflicting views".
The Act contains these requirements because, to bias coverage in one direction or the other, would be to favour one political party over another and thus unduly influence the ability of each South African citizen to discern the choices available to them.
The decision by the SABC to broadcast live for two hours the ANC's final election rally, with three days to go before Election Day, while refusing to cover the Democratic Alliance in the same manner, is neither equitable nor consistent. It is in violation of the IBAA. It is to disproportionately promote the views of the ANC and thereby to give prominence to one agenda over others. A two hour live crossing is incomparable with a hard news story on a bulletin. In doing so, it is to promote one choice before South Africans over another which is both contrary to the SABC's mandate and undemocratic.
For two weeks prior to the Democratic Alliance's final election rally, our party attempted to negotiate with the SABC for live coverage. At first the SABC gave us a verbal commitment that it would cover the event live. It then reneged on that undertaking. It would give no explanation for its decision, nor would it confirm or deny whether it was covering the ANC's final event. Last night, it confirmed that it would indeed be covering the ANC live.
Given the SABC's choice, to cover one party live and not another and thereby to promote one choice over another, the DA must question the circumstances under which the SABC reneged on its initial decision. Was it called by Luthuli House? Further, why is it not prepared to offer an explanation to South Africans, as to why the public broadcaster has made this choice? These are the actions of an organization that lacks transparency and acts in a way that advances the interest of the governing party.
17 June 2011: The Mail & Guardian says that the refusal of the SABC to abide by a ruling of the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) in favour of the Mail & Guardian is unprecedented and could threaten the system of statutory self-regulation in the broadcast sector.
22 June 2011: Mail & Guardian journalist Sam Sole outlines how utterly corrupt the SABC was in broadcasting the defamatory lies against him by Robert Gumede
25 June 2011: The SABC finally and reluctantly broadcasts a BCCSA-ordered apology relating to an utterly dishonest attempt by Phil Molefe to besmirch the reputation of ace Mail & Guardian reporter Sam Sole: “The Broadcasting Complaints Commission has directed SABC 3 to broadcast the following finding by it: A newscast of 3rd November 2010 dealt with allegations made by businessman Mr. Robert Gumede against the Mail and Guardian reporter Mr. Sam Sole. These allegations included bribery of Mr. Sole by Mr. John Sterenborg and racial bias in the Mail and Guardian reporting on the affairs on Mr. Gumede himself. Firstly, SABC 3 news did not deal fairly with the Mail and Guardian newspaper or Mr. Sole. The SABC did not adequately address the matter of the alleged bribe. There was no evidence that Mr. Sole had received the bribe, and despite the reply broadcast on behalf of the Mail and Guardian and Mr. Sole, an incorrect inference could still have been drawn. Mr. Sole had merely been reimbursed for an air ticket that he had purchased in order to interview a potential news source”.
1 July 2011: Peter Harris, esteemed Struggle lawyer and author of In a Different Time, resigns from the SABC board.
1 July 2011: The SABC announces that its head of radio news, Mike Siluma, has been appointed the acting head, overall, of the corporation’s news department. Specialist television reporter Thinus ferreira is astonished:
“Are they making this up as they go? Seriously? The SABC has just issued another statement saying that Mike Siluma is going to act as the new acting head of news at the SABC - hours after announcing that Phil Molefe (who used to be the head of news at the SABC) is now the new acting group CEO of the public broadcaster. Mike Siluma has been the head of radio news and current affairs at the SABC and he's now taking over for Phil Molefe, who is taking over for Robin Nicholson.
“The announcement of Mike Siluma as the acting group executive for news and current affairs at the SABC is the latest in a wave of shocking news from the SABC today - following in the wake of the resignation of the SABC board member Peter Harris, the apparent ousting of Robin Nicholson as chief financial officer and acting group CEO, and the appointment of Phil Molefe who used to run the news division, now the acting top exec over all of Fawly Towers in Auckland Park.
“Whoever is ''managing'' this latest scandalous top-level executive travesty at the beleaguered SABC is ... not. Why on earth would the SABC not send out one, very clear, very complete and comprehensive press statement or have a press conference? Instead the SABC has re-ignited a media feeding frenzy by issuing shocking information in drips and drabs, creating the impression that the broadcaster's top execs are grasping at shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic yet again.”
8 July 2011: The Mail & Guardian reveals that the reason for the resignation of Peter Harris was the successful attempt by the ANC - through the Communications Minister, Roy “Room Service” Padayachie, to gerrymander the appointment processes at the SABC so as to facilitate the appointment of the Luthuli House-approved Phil Molefe as CEO.
Minutes of a shareholders’ meeting called by Roy Padayachie, the communications minister, last week to amend the SABC’s articles of association back up charges of political interference in the governance of the public broadcaster.
The minutes, obtained by the Mail & Guardian, reveal how board member Peter Harris objected to the lack of consultation with the SABC board, particularly as the amendments “would widen the authority of the shareholder [the government] with regard to acting appointments to key executive director positions”.
A respected lawyer, Harris resigned a day after the meeting, at which he pointed out that it was “poor corporate governance” for a shareholders’ meeting to be called at a day’s notice when it was dealing with a multibillion-rand company.
The minutes reveal that, in spite of Harris’s objections, Padayachie used the meeting to pass key amendments to the articles of association to facilitate the appointment of any employee to the SABC’s three top management positions.
Apparently, the purpose was to enable current news chief Phil Molefe to take over as acting chief executive officer.
10 July 2011: City Press reveals that the SABC is paying millions of rands annually to employees, including one accused of murder, to sit at home.
Former SABC acting chief executive Gab Mampone raked in more than R1.1m in a year – while sitting at home.
He is one of 26 employees that the SABC paid almost R7m in salaries over two years while their suspensions dragged on.
Among the other top guns who made a killing while on extended suspensions were news resources general manager Rapitsi Montsho (more than R1m in 20 months) and former boss Solly Mokoetle (R815 000 in four months).
Mokoetle left the SABC in January with a R3.4m golden handshake, but SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said none of the other 14 employees who had since been dismissed was paid to leave.
The SABC also paid murder accused Patrick Malgas more than R43 000 in four months after the voice-over artist allegedly killed journalist Shadi Rapitso.
Malgas was suspended by the public broadcaster for “committing a common law offence” after the October 2009 incident in Johannesburg.
He was released on R5 000 bail last February and was due to stand trial this year for the murder of the former e.tv and City Press journalist.
Rapitso was found in Malgas’s bathroom with her throat slit.
Kganyago confirmed that Malgas was still employed at the SABC.
Some of the other alleged offences involving staff members included financial mismanagement, threats of violence, dishonesty, unauthorised entry and malicious damage to property.
Head of SABC News International Dr Saul Pelle stayed at home for more than eight months, earning a salary of R370 000.
English TV newsreader Mahendra Raghunath was suspended for “contravention of rules and regulations; non compliance with duties of contract employment”.
His suspension was lifted last June after four months, for which he was paid about R100 000.
Head of the SABC’s 2010 World Cup project unit, Peter Kwele, paid R216 000 over three months, left the public broadcaster in December.
Kwele had been suspended in October for hiring the Sandton Convention Centre as the SABC’s broadcast base for the 2010 World Cup at a cost of R26 million.
17 July 2011: City Press reveals that pressure from the ANC has impacted on the lives of two SABC news personnel. Interface presenter, Eusebius Mckaiser resigns citing pressure from ANC ministers like Jeff Radebe who did not like his allegedly hostile interview technique. Political reporter Sophie Mokoenawas abruptly taken off air at the end of June and was also, according to a source in the SABC newsroom, not allowed to do election campaign stories in the run-up to the local government elections.
26 July 2011: Roy ‘Room Service’ Padayachie racks up R1.2 million in car hire costs
11 August 2011: The SOS Coalition calls for the SABC to be made a Chapter 9 institution
15 September 2011: A preliminary report by the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) into the SABC is revealed. The investigation started after the auditor-general made damning findings in his 2009/10 report on the broadcaster’s finances. The ongoing SIU probe – covering the period September, 2007 to March 2010 – unearthed a litany of abuses and financial malfeasance.
These include fraud and irregularities in the procurement of services, theft of assets, payments to fictitious companies, duplicate payments, fraudulent claims, and irregular appointments, promotions and pay hikes.
27 September 2011: The SABC announces that it is suspending its group company secretary, Thelma Melk, on charges of poor work performance for allegedly failing to revise policy, along with failure to perform her duties, which allegedly include timeously registering a director in terms of required legislation and for taking leave without proper authorisation. She is subsequently rewarded for these transgressions by being given a R3.2-million golden handshake.
19 October 2011: The Broadcasting, Electronic Media and Allied Workers' Union (Bemawu) has castigated the SABC after revelations that it paid R246 000 to send a non-employee to London.
"Since when do outsiders travel on SABC expenses, introduce themselves at news conferences as the acting head of human capital services and strategy and appoint people and sign contracts on behalf of the SABC?" Bemawu president Hannes du Buisson asked on Wednesday.
According to media reports, SABC board chairperson Ben Ngubane told Parliament that Justice Ndaba was not an employee of the public broadcaster, but merely a consultant.
The SABC reportedly paid R246 000 to send Ndaba to London to attend a leadership course, which he never completed. This was after a dispute with prostitutes, The Times newspaper reported.
BEMAWU accused SABC board chairman, Dr Ben Ngubane of blatantly lying to parliament on the appointment of Ndaba and demands his resignation.
Said BEMAWU president Hannes du Buisson: “Dr Ngubane’s statement on 18 October to the parliamentary portfolio committee on communications that a senior SABC official, Mr Justice Ndaba, is an ‘outsider’ (consultant) and not a permanent employee of the SABC, was a blatant lie and the last straw.
“SABC staff records show that Mr Justice Ndaba was appointed by an SABC board member in the Corporation’s Turnaround Planning Unit (TPU) on a one-year fixed-term contract. This was done outside of the SABC’s approved governance structures and recruitment processes. At the time, Mr Solly Mokoetle (former Group Chief Executive of the SABC) raised the same issue with the board. Mr Ndaba was then reassigned by the chairperson of the board to act as head of Strategy as well as head of Human Capital Services – still as a permanent employee. Dr Ngubane is acutely aware of this appointment and of the fact that Mr Ndaba is a senior employee and acting Group Executive of the SABC. Mr Ndaba has attended all Board Meetings. Dr Ngubane signed off the SABC's Financial Statements, the very same presented in Parliament yesterday.
“The question arises whether he had not read the financial statements? On page 140 of the Annual Report, Mr Ndaba is listed as Senior Management, Acting Group Executive, earning a salary of R450 000 for the 2010/11 fiscal.
“It is misconduct in the extreme to lie to Parliament – dismissible misconduct. The same type of misconduct the honourable chairperson of the portfolio committee, Mr Kholwane, referred to yesterday when the issue of the former CFO of ICASA was discussed. BEMAWU wishes to applaud Mr Kholwane and members of the portfolio committee for the manner in which they have interrogated ICASA about the “golden handshake” given to ICASA’s former CFO. This will most certainly send a strong message to every board of every organisation answerable to parliament, not to work recklessly with tax money. There is risk involved in all disciplinary action and litigation, and to pay senior management enormous sums of money for fear of those risks is wrong and liable.
“BEMAWU’s request to Dr Ngubane for certain information has simply been ignored. The union has reason to believe that the company secretary, Ms Thelma Melk, has been suspended without a board resolution. Ms Melk is not a BEMAWU member, but we are concerned about corporate governance not being complied with by the chairperson of the board. We have requested a copy of the board resolution to suspend Ms Melk. To date, the union has not received a reply, let alone the requested resolution. We are of the view that the company secretary is being victimised and pushed out because of her insistence on adherence to corporate governance.
“Furthermore, the SABC board under the leadership of Dr Ngubane refused and / or failed to approve the tender originally won by Wesbank to supply SABC News with rental vehicles. This resulted in an untenable situation, with news crews virtually grounded for as long as six months and not being able to cover stories. This has severely damaged the SABC’s reputation and name and has made SABC News the laughing stock of the news fraternity. In the process, the SABC failed in its public service broadcasting mandate to inform, educate and entertain South Africans.
“According to a Sunday newspaper, the chairperson of the board refused to co-operate in an internal audit investigation into Mr Ndaba's appointment. The Sunday Times reports that Dr Ngubane also refused to release a report from Stuart Spencer, a recruitment consultant who had interviewed Mr Ndaba prior to his appointment. SABC Spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago has denied this, saying that the chairperson had ordered the investigation. If this is true, why doesn’t he make available Spencer Stuart’s report?”
20 October 2011: SABC salaries are revealed by Thinus Ferreira
24 October 2011: 11 months after the Sunday Times discloses details of the profligate lifestyle – at taxpayers’ expense – of Communications Minister, Roy “Room Service” Padayachie, President Jacob Zuma announces that Padyachie will be stepping down because of “ill health” and that he will be replaced by Dina Pule, the Deputy Minister of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation. Despite his “ill health”, he does not retire but is appointed Public Service and Administration Minister
2 November 2011: Business Day reveals that the SABC wants to bring back the hugely conflicted former head of strategy, Sipho Sithole. “In 2009, Mr Sithole faced allegations that his private interests in the music and film industries conflicted with his role at the public broadcaster. The auditor-general found that in that year, 1465 employees of the SABC had outside business interests that contravened the broadcaster's policies.”
The head of BEMAWU, Hannes Du Buisson, described this as “insanity” and Save Our SABC campaign co-ordinator Kate Skinner said Mr Sithole's appointment would be "highly problematic".
"Some of our union members are alleging that he (Mr Sithole) has been fingered in the on-going Special Investigating Unit (SIU) investigation. Certainly if that is the case, his appointment would raise a lot of questions," Ms Skinner said.
Communication Workers' Union secretary-general Gallant Roberts said Mr Sithole's impeding appointment "raised a lot of suspicion".
"It is disappointing. How can people who have been alleged to have been involved in improper or corrupt activity be re-appointed? Surely they could have found someone else?"
7 November 2011: SAPA reveals that BEMAWU, the SABC’s largest trade union, has filed a dispute with the CCMA because bonuses to middle management had been unpaid for three years and that they had also not, for three years, received the salary increases which other levels of SABC management had received. As an example of the SABC’s discrimination against this level of management, BEMAWU said that car allowances for middle management were last reviewed in 2003 - despite senior and top management at the SABC having allegedly received an additional R10 000 per month as a petrol allowance on top of their monthly car allowance of between R10 000 and R14 000.
24 November 2011: The SOS: Support Public Broadcasting Coalition organises a protest picket outside the SABC’s Auckland Park headquarters. It was protesting the fact that it had sent a series of letters including to the Chair of the SABC Board (25 October 2011) and to members of the SABC board (8 November 2011) – all of which had been ignored