Boss of SABC in North West accused of dishing out extra time on air for the province’s premier
SABC staff in North West want the broadcaster’s newly established board to investigate its regional general manager, Dan Mongale, who is described as being one of former chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s appointees and henchmen.
Two unions and several sources have accused Mongale of abusing his position by allocating more airtime for Premier Supra Mahumapelo at the expense of fair and balanced reporting. They say Motsoeneng appointed Mongale despite his not having the requisite qualifications, and that senior, more deserving candidates were overlooked.
Impeccable sources have told City Press that when Mongale was vetted by national intelligence, it was revealed – and conveyed to Motsoeneng – that Mongale had a prior conviction for diamond smuggling, and his appointment was discouraged. Motsoeneng, say sources, overruled the vetting process and insisted Mongale be hired anyway.
“Seasoned journalists with postgraduate degrees and impeccable experience in radio and television were overlooked many times in his favour,” a source said.
Mongale told City Press that allegations around the fact that he did not attain a matric certificate were “mischievous”. He said he passed matric at Kgomotso High School in Pampierstad, Northern Cape, in 1981 and joined the SABC the next year. He also denied that he had dealt in diamonds. He did not provide City Press with a copy of his matric certificate and his claim could not be verified.
A former Broadcasting, Electronic, Media & Allied Workers’ Union representative in the province said it had tried for several years to get the SABC’s human resources division to supply Mongale’s matric certificate, but was unsuccessful.
“No one I know has ever seen [Mongale’s] matric certificate.,” said the source who cannot be named as he still works at the broadcaster and fears victimisation.
The Media Workers’ Association of SA said it was worried about these issues in the regional newsroom.
The association’s general secretary, Tuwani Gumani, said: “The newsroom [in the North West region] has notoriously enjoyed a large share of repression, censorship and abuses of employment law. The patronage system had many fixers and enforcers.”
Broadcasting, Electronic, Media & Allied Workers Union (Bemawu) said it filed several complaints about the management style of Mr Mongale. He is aggressive towards staff, does not tolerate any resistence and when opposed, does not hesitate to transgress the labour laws to get to opponents. He is autocratic and often abuse his power at the workplace. A prime example is the suspension of the Motweding Station manager by Mongale. The Station Manager inter alia was suspended for trying to follow SABC procedure by rotating staff to act in a position, something Mongale - for political reasons - disagreed with. Mongale is politically biased, a bad manager and part of the regime responsible for the sorry state the SABC finds itself in.
His appointment was suspect, his conduct towards staff appaling and questionable.At least two former reporters at the SABC in North West told City Press that they once received a call from Mahumapelo in which he gave directives on how news stories about him should be reported on television or radio. Mahumapelo’s spokesperson denied this.
Opposition parties in the province said they had complained about the excessive coverage Mahumapelo was getting, but the complaints fell on deaf ears.
The DA’s provincial leader, Joe McGluwa, said: “The problem is that Mongale, who is at the centre of the SABC’s capture, controls news content in [the premier’s] favour. No other party in the province can call the SABC and go straight on air like him.”
An Economic Freedom Fighters member of the provincial legislature, Alfred Motsi, said the SABC in North West had been captured and that the SABC ignored the party’s objections against excessive coverage of the premier.
Mahumapelo’s spokesperson, Brian Setswambung, denied the premier was getting preferential treatment.
“The allegation that the premier called SABC North West bosses about negative comments is unfortunate, misleading and devoid of the truth. We dismiss the allegation of improper influence on the SABC North West with the contempt it deserves, because we know that our principals avail themselves to interview requests as a consequence of the provincial government’s decision to improve communication with the public and our relationship with the media in general,” he said.
SABC staff claimed that those who questioned Mahumapelo’s excessive use of the broadcaster were either taken off air or shifted to less influential positions such as producing current affairs programmes.
The SABC’s national spokesperson, Kaizer Kganyago, said the SABC would not discuss these issues as they were internal matters.
“We call upon anyone who has a query around these matters to raise them through the correct internal processes so they are addressed accordingly,” he said.
CAPTURED? SABC North West general manager Dan Mongale (left) meets with Premier Supra Mahumapelo at the broadcaster’s studios