South Africa loves a rebel. Because of our past, it is the anti-establishment figure who barks at authority who is our inevitable hero. A history of struggle (and a presence of struggle) means we idolise revolutionaries and revolution.
But beware false gods. There is a tendency to make a hero of SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng. He has so much chutzpah and bravado that his antics are increasingly met with a message of “Who da man?”
Is it real? Is he a broadcast genius making good against the elite who are snooty about people without a matric?
We don’t think so. Motsoeneng is about himself only. His mission at the SABC may be disguised as one for better journalism and one that will build a united and robust broadcaster, but it is only about selfaggrandisement.
Motsoeneng’s rags-to-riches story (he started out as a Free State-based freelancer for the SABC) may resonate with many South Africans, but is he good for public broadcasting?
Motsoeneng is on a mission of grand censorship, where he is controlling the message that millions of South Africans receive by radio, TV and increasingly online. Not only has he cut commentators off radio talk shows on politics (a key part of public spectrum democracy), he has summarily canned programmes or inserts that don’t meet with the increasingly narrow band of coverage he allows.
This is dangerous, especially as the SABC is a vital part of democratic communication. Motsoeneng is the country’s censor in chief. He is in violation of policies on public broadcasting and he is in violation of a court judgment.
Who will stop the capture of the SABC? LISTENERS OF SABC PUBLIC BROADCASTING RADIO STATIONS (SUCH AS UKHOZI, UMHLOBO WENENE AND LESEDI) OF CURRENT AFFAIRS PROGRAMMING PER MONTH