The SABC has offered a glimpse into its reasons for sending its news chief - Phil Molefe - off on special leave.
It was due to "HR policy matters" and had nothing to do with accusations that the corporation's group CEO had been trying to compromise editorial independence, the broadcaster said,
Yesterday, the SABC board met to discuss Molefe after a bruising week of media reports that alluded to a nasty stand-off between Molefe and group CEO Lulama Mokhobo.
Allegations were rife that ANC figures were unhappy with the amount of coverage the SABC had given ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema.
Mokhobo, allegedly acting under pressure from the ANC, demanded that Molefe give her access to the news diary. When he refused, he was sent on special leave.
Yesterday morning, SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago rubbished the reports and said the two would meet to "iron out issues".
Last night, the SABC issued a statement after the board meeting: "The board expressed the view that the group CEO was within her rights to place an executive on special leave in terms of the SABC's employment policies.
"She is also, in terms of the editorial policy, editor-in-chief and as such is finally accountable for the quality of news on our platforms. It has nothing to do with interfering with editorial independence."
The issue has, however, sparked concern in parliament.
Chairman of the portfolio committee on communication Eric Kholwane said after reading about the drama last week that he immediately tried to speak to Ben Ngubane, the board's chairman.
But he was told that it was "an operational matter" between the two.
"Of course, anything that destabilises the SABC, we are concerned."
A stable SABC is also what civil society coalition SOS is calling for.
"What we need is stability. We haven't had stability for so many years," said the coalition's coordinator, Kate Skinner.
"It is a very critical moment for the SABC because they've got to implement the new digital broadcasting channels, including the new 24-hour news channel. Obviously for that to be done effectively with quality programming we need stable leadership."
But this is not the only controversy staring the SABC in the face. Its COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, is being investigated by the public protector for, among other things, the veracity of his academic qualifications.
Kganyago said "[we] will cooperate with the public protector".
The SABC has come under fire for spending millions on shuttle services and rented vehicles; it faced lo sing the rights to broadcast domestic athletics meetings due to unpaid fees; and the auditor-general in 2009 accused it of financial mismanagement.Source: The Times