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ANC party squabbles result in shake-up at SAfrica's public broadcaster

Suspended in turn: Dali Mpofu, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) chief executive officer.Photo: Agence France-Presse (AFP)

South Africa's public broadcaster suspended its chief executive for insubordination barely hours after he meted out the same punishment to the head of news, its board announced Wednesday, according to news reports.

Dali Mpofu, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) chief executive officer, has been suspended with immediate effect, the board said in a statement, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Mpofu has been accused of "very serious allegations" including "an alleged refusal and or failure to ... implement decisions of the board". "This is pending an investigation and possible disciplinary inquiry," the board said.

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News of Mpofu's suspension comes a day after he announced the suspension of his head of news, Snuki Zikalala, whom he accused of gross misconduct following allegations that he had leaked sensitive information.

Commentators have said the turmoil in SABC is linked to December's battle between South African President Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma for the leadership of the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

Jane Duncan, executive director of the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) blamed the crisis at SABC on the board, which she said lacked legitimacy and public confidence.

"President (Thabo) Mbeki should recall the current board. It has failed to deal with the internal problems facing the broadcaster, which are mainly political," Duncan told AFP. "There is a crisis at SABC but a necessary one. This is an opportunity to deal all the problems that have faced the broadcaster in the last two years," Duncan said.

SABC was criticised during the contest as being biased in favour of Mbeki who humiliatingly lost the ANC leadership to Zuma.

"It is clear the crisis at SABC has more to do with the internal divisions within the ANC," said Professor Fackson Banda, chair of media and democracy at South Africa's Rhodes University. "It's very unfortunate that politics have taken centre stage at a public broadcaster, which is supposed to be professional. Public confidence in SABC will badly be affected with these developments," Banda said. had some other relevant details:

And while media reports have claimed the Zikalala suspension was due to the leaking of a board document, City Press can reveal that this is wrong.

The document in question relates to a labour case involving a former current affairs executive producer for Lesedi FM who was fired last year and whose reinstatement Mpofu wanted Zikalala to effect.

Mpofu's suspension was confirmed by board chairperson Khanyisile Mkonza. While Mpofu was cagey with the details of Zikalala's suspension, so was Mkonza on Mpofu's.

But City Press has established that both suspensions are related to the mooted re-instatement of a controversial radio executive producer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, who has strong links to ANC president Jacob Zuma.

Date posted: May 8, 2008 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 599