ON LEAVE: Phil Molefe. Picture: Fati Moluasi. Picture: FATI MOALUSI
TNA Reporter and Sapa
The SABC has been thrown into disarray once again following yesterday’s announcement by the national broadcaster that it has placed its group executive for news, Phil Molefe, on special leave with immediate effect.
SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago declined to give reasons for Molefe’s special leave but said the matter was pending discussions between Molefe and chief executive Lulama Mokhobo.
Senior SABC editorial sources told The New Age last night that the latest crisis was triggered by a running battle between Molefe and Mokhobo over a number of issues, including editorial independence.
There is also a difference on opinion over the recent interview with embattled ANCYL leader Julius Malema, general coverage of the leadership battles within the ANC and an attempt to get its acting chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng directly involved in newsroom operations.
Molefe told The New Age that he was not in a position to comment and referred reporters to Kganyago.
Attempts to obtain comment from Kganyago on these allegations were unsuccessful last night.
This is the second time Molefe is on special leave this year and this action raises serious concerns about the ongoing stability at the public broadcaster.
According to the same sources, Molefe was previously negotiating a mutual settlement with the SABC but, following the intervention of some board members, he resumed his employment to complete various special projects.
These included the launch of the much-vaunted 24-hour channel and digital terrestial television.
“Phil was viewed as a stumbling block to the vision of the CEO and had to be removed with immediate effect,” the source said.
In recent weeks, it was reported that Molefe implemented a unilateral restructuring of the SABC’s news division including the “demotion” of televison news head Jimi Matthews.
Ironically, Matthews will fulfil Molefe’s duties while he is away on his “special leave”.
The role of the SABC board in the latest shenanigans at the public broadcaster also seems unclear, in light of Molefe’s temporary departure.