CityPress - - News - ANDISIWE MAKINANA andisiwe.makinana@city­ POLOKO TAU poloko.tau@city­

Sus­pended head of Par­lia­ment se­cu­rity Zelda Holtz­man was ac­quit­ted of 11 of the 14 charges brought against her by the in­sti­tu­tion, with the most se­ri­ous guilty ver­dict be­ing for fail­ure to de­velop a strate­gic plan or busi­ness plan for Par­lia­ment. This is de­tailed in an 81-page doc­u­ment about the in­quiry into Holtz­man.

When Par­lia­ment sus­pended Holtz­man and her deputy, Mot­latsi Mok­gatla, on full pay in July last year, it said they were be­ing in­ves­ti­gated for al­leged se­cu­rity breaches and is­sues af­fect­ing Par­lia­ment’s pro­tec­tion ser­vices. But this week it emerged that Holtz­man was only found guilty of a fail­ure to de­velop a busi­ness plan, not ad­e­quately re­spond­ing to ques­tions from her su­pe­rior about sec­re­tary to Par­lia­ment Gengezi Mgid­lana’s use of blue lights and a fail­ure to ad­dress di­vi­sions among staff in her unit.

The use of blue lights by Mgid­lana and the re­cruit­ment of ac­tive po­lice of­fi­cers into Par­lia­ment se­cu­rity were key points of ten­sion be­tween Mgid­lana, Holtz­man and Mok­gatla and, ac­cord­ing to sev­eral doc­u­ments – in­clud­ing court pa­pers City Press has seen – the two se­cu­rity heads ob­jected to Mgid­lana’s use of blue lights, say­ing it was not the duty of Par­lia­ment’s pro­tec­tion ser­vices to drive him around.

In a mem­o­ran­dum, they ques­tioned the process Par­lia­ment fol­lowed in re­cruit­ing po­lice to be­come part of its pro­tec­tion unit and the ap­point­ment of a sub­or­di­nate, Deon van der Spuy, to man­age the project to im­prove se­cu­rity in Par­lia­ment, which in­cluded the re­cruit­ment of po­lice. They raised dis­sat­is­fac­tions about be­ing side­lined by Mgid­lana, say­ing this was a re­sult of their “re­fusal to be forced to carry out func­tions where the le­gal ba­sis of those ac­tions is ques­tion­able”.

The duo rec­om­mended that, among other things, Mgid­lana re­scind the ap­point­ment of the ju­nior of­fi­cial as project man­ager and that the al­leged use of blue lights and sirens in the ve­hi­cles used to trans­port Mgid­lana be fully and in­de­pen­dently in­ves­ti­gated to prevent a re­cur­rence of un­law­ful be­hav­iour and ac­tions.

In turn, Mgid­lana in­structed his deputy, Baby Tyawa, to in­ves­ti­gate whether it was true that pro­tec­tion ser­vices per­son­nel were not sup­posed to drive him. In in­ves­ti­gat­ing the mat­ter, Tyawa sent Holtz­man ques­tions about her as­ser­tion that it was not her staff’s duty to drive Mgid­lana. The in­quiry found that Holtz­man failed to pro­vide ad­e­quate writ­ten re­sponses to these ques­tions de­spite be­ing given sev­eral chances to re­spond. She was found guilty for gross in­sub­or­di­na­tion for this.

A week af­ter they handed in the mem­o­ran­dum, they were sus­pended from Par­lia­ment.

As for be­ing found guilty of a fail­ure to de­velop a strate­gic or busi­ness plan for Par­lia­ment, Holtz­man tes­ti­fied that she did not know what a busi­ness plan was and was never re­quested to de­velop one. The in­quiry found her guilty on the ba­sis that she had de­vel­oped a busi­ness plan in pre­vi­ous fi­nan­cial years.

Among the charges Holtz­man was ex­on­er­ated on were those for speak­ing to the me­dia af­ter her sus­pen­sion with­out get­ting per­mis­sion from Mgid­lana; telling Sun­day news­pa­pers that Par­lia­ment’s ac­tions against her were “rem­i­nis­cent of the apartheid gov­ern­ment”; and pre­vent­ing her su­pe­rior from par­tic­i­pat­ing in a meet­ing with pro­tec­tion ser­vices staff. Par­lia­ment ar­gued her me­dia com­ments had tainted its im­age and brought its name into dis­re­pute.

On June 29, lawyers will ar­gue in mit­i­ga­tion and ag­gra­va­tion of sen­tence. SABC chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Hlaudi Mot­soe­neng has de­nied ban­ning any crit­i­cism of the pub­lic broad­caster and him­self on any of its plat­forms, yet he vowed to hunt down the “rot­ten pota­toes” that were leak­ing in­ter­nal in­for­ma­tion to the me­dia.

Mot­soe­neng was re­spond­ing to re­ports put to him that SABC man­age­ment had on Thurs­day called ra­dio ex­ec­u­tive pro­duc­ers and pre­sen­ters, and told them that the pub­lic broad­caster, its poli­cies or Mot­soe­neng him­self could not be crit­i­cised on air. He also de­nied that he had banned out­side com­men­ta­tors and news­pa­per ed­i­tors, as well as SAfm Sun­day show The Ed­i­tors.

“I will have to check with ed­i­to­rial man­age­ment, be­cause, you know, every time there’s a de­ci­sion peo­ple will say it’s Mot­soe­neng, even if I have noth­ing to do with it. I will check if such a de­ci­sion was made, but what I know is I am not aware of any of the things raised here,” Mot­soe­neng said.

He re­peat­edly spoke of how those who “run to the me­dia” were mak­ing life dif­fi­cult for them­selves. “We will get rid of those who run to the news­pa­pers ... Ac­tu­ally, SABC em­ploy­ees are very happy but there are a few rot­ten pota­toes; there are very few of them, in­clud­ing those who leak in­ter­nal in­for­ma­tion to the me­dia.”

Mot­soe­neng, who has been widely crit­i­cised for a num­ber of de­ci­sions made at the SABC, was adamant that few peo­ple were un­happy with his lead­er­ship and de­ci­sions at the pub­lic broad­caster that have been at­trib­uted to him.

“I am not apolo­getic about trans­form­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion and de­ci­sions, in­clud­ing not to show cer­tain im­ages in our news. In fact, the ma­jor­ity of South Africans, in­clud­ing re­li­gious or­gan­i­sa­tions, have en­dorsed that de­ci­sion,” he said. “I can tell you that 90% of South Africans are very ex­cited with the trans­for­ma­tion at the SABC and our im­proved news cov­er­age, and I don’t know where this other 10% comes from or who they rep­re­sent. Peo­ple are very apolo­getic where they have to im­ple­ment equity and trans­for­ma­tion, but not us at the SABC.” He said SABC em­ploy­ees were ex­pected to “sing the song and talk the talk of the SABC”. “If the SABC re­leases a state­ment, our em­ploy­ees can’t say ‘the SABC said this’; they must say ‘we are say­ing this or have de­cided on that’. They can’t re­port like other broad­cast­ers when they are part of any SABC de­ci­sion,” he said. “I have been think­ing maybe our em­ploy­ees should have uni­forms so that they can un­der­stand unity. “The SABC is in­de­pen­dent as an or­gan­i­sa­tion, but no one is in­de­pen­dent within the or­gan­i­sa­tion.” He clar­i­fied that de­ci­sions, some of which he took credit for, such as play­ing 90% lo­cal mu­sic on SABC ra­dio sta­tions, were not made sin­gle-hand­edly. He also re­sponded to re­ports that he was work­ing for the ANC. “We’re not here to serve pol­i­tics and are not in­flu­enced by any po­lit­i­cal party,” he said. An in­sider has told City Press that an­a­lysts such as Wil­liam Bird have been black­listed be­cause of their crit­i­cal views of the SABC’s ap­proach to news re­port­ing. He said col­leagues in other bu­reaus had com­plained that there were peo­ple they were not al­lowed to source in­for­ma­tion from.

– Ad­di­tional re­port­ing by Setumo Stone

Hlaudi Mot­soe­neng

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