Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo
Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo has said that although she doesn't want politicians to distance themselves from the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), they also cannot meddle in editorial decisions.
This was in response to a question about rebuilding the SABC with less government meddling.
Speaking at the South Africa Media Summit which kicked off in Sandton, Johannesburg, on Thursday under the theme "securing the future of the fourth estate", Dlodlo admitted that the public broadcaster had had poor management in the past.
"It was not so much about the people who are in the newsroom or those who were procuring news, it was more about management," she said.
One of the panelists who spoke before Dlodlo, analyst and author Moeletsi Mbeki, said that the poor suffer when politicians interfere at the SABC because of its reach.
Dlodlo said that the SABC was not a state broadcaster, but rather, a public broadcaster that can and should be held accountable to Parliament through the minister of communications.
She was responding to questions posed by three of the SABC8 – a group of journalists who were fired in 2016 for opposing editorial decisions made by former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng.
CEO, COO positions being advertised
"We cannot allow the madness to continue with the current structure at SABC," said journalist Thandeka Gqubule, adding that it gave "too much power to government to interfere".
Her colleague Busi Ntuli said that Motsoeneng had not acted alone in carrying out his decisions, mentioning that he had support from others at head office and regional offices. Ntuli wanted to know if any action would be taken against them.
Dlodlo said although she could not control or interfere with the goings on at the SABC on an operational level, she could step in when there was flagrant abuse of power. She left labour relations issues to the board and management, she said.
"At best, I can ensure that the climate for the board is in a position to not be meddled with by politicians," she said.
Dlodlo said that the positions of CEO and COO were currently being advertised, but that Motsoeneng would not be returning as either.
She said she was not sure if he would be returning to fill any other position at the broadcaster.
Dlodlo said that the main issue facing the SABC was sustainability in terms of finance and human resources.