SABC crisis: a blessing in disguise?

With CEO Dali Mpofu and director of news Snuki Zikalala suspended, newly-appointed acting CEO Gabriel Mampone has been tasked to lead the cleaning up of the SABC backyard, amid reports that Amrit Manga, the head of TV news and current affairs, has been appointed to lead the news department for now. However, many observers believe that the public broadcaster can take advantage of its current crisis to repair its severely dented image.
“This crisis does present opportunities for the SABC to set itself on a new path if it follows the injunction of the ANC secretary-general to become independent and non-partisan, a true public broadcaster,” Prof Anton Harber, of Wits University's School of Journalism, told late last night.

“We want a non-partisan SABC”

Addressing the media at Luthuli House on Tuesday, 6 May 2008, on the outcomes of the ANC national working committee meeting, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe 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.”

But Mantashe's plea seemed to have fallen on deaf ears as Mpofu suspended Zikalala the same day for alleged serious misconduct and to see himself bundled out shortly afterwards by the embattled board led by Kanyisiwe Mkonza.

“This augurs very badly for the organisation as it is now tearing itself apart,” Prof Harber said. “It will be necessary to go back to first base and constitute a board with credibility and authority and not tainted as this one now is, so that the repairs can start.”

No joint investigations

Speaking to SABC2 Morning Live this morning, Thursday 8 May, SABC board chairperson Mkonza said that both Zikalala and Mpofu investigations will not be conducted jointly. “We have appointed an outside company to conduct the Mpofu investigation. As for Snuki, the acting CEO will continue where Dali left off as he has already that process,” she told news anchor Vuyo Mbuli.

“Everyone has to put on their gloves and continue doing whatever was supposed to be done. Nothing comes to a standstill,” Mkonza added.

As the nation continues to talk, gossip and wonder what truly lies beneath the two suspensions, speculation mounts behind the scenes that the board acted to avenge the suspension of Zikalala, one of their team-mates in the Mbeki camp, which prepares to do battle against the ‘new invaders' who want to evict them.

According to sources, Mpofu - a former Zikalala's comrade-in-arms whom he strongly defended and shielded during the blacklist saga even after being found guilty by the Sisulu Commission - has since crossed floor to the ‘other camp'.

“Result of various parties maneuvering”

“I believe these actions are the result of various parties manoeuvering to reposition themselves to survive the post-Polokwane shake-up. This is what happens when the SABC puts itself into the middle of intra-party squabbles,” Prof Harber said regretfully.
In the meantime, all eyes are on Mampone to operate miracles to calm the ongoing furious storm. And by now he might be invoking the providence to give him strength and wisdom he badly needs to succeed where others have failed. “He will be only a caretaker until this shake-up is complete. It would be unfair to expect an acting CEO to tackle such major problems,” Prof Harber said.

Who is Mampone?

Mampone joined the SABC in 1998 as GM in the sales and marketing division. He began his career in sales as a sales representative for South African Breweries (SAB). He then moved on to LGM Retail Consulting, a professional business management training company, where he was the MD.

He also worked for Gilbeys Distillers & Vinters as its national trade marketing manager. In 1999, he was appointed as an audit committee member of the Government Communication and Information Systems (GCIS). He is also a member of the Marketing Excellence Awards Council.

His educational qualifications include: MBA (De Monteforte University), MAP (WBS), BA Hons (Wits), Chartered Marketer CM (SA) and Global EDP (GIBS).

“What has happened seriously affected staff's morale but as an organisation we need to regroup and forge ahead to deliver on our public mandate,” he told SABC2 Morning Live.

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About Issa Sikiti da Silva

Issa Sikiti da Silva is a winner of the 2010 SADC Media Awards (print category). He freelances for various media outlets, local and foreign, and has travelled extensively across Africa. His work has been published both in French and English. He used to contribute to as a senior news writer.
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