A lonely end for Motsoeneng and Molefe
On May 15, Brian Molefe danced his way to the foyer of Eskom’s headquarters where a large crowd waited for him – in song – to reclaim his job. Seduced by the warm reception, Molefe took on the role of a populist and played to the gallery.
He made several announcements around continuing “with our mission of keeping the lights on”, building power plants and addressing salary disparities. All this while the gathering cheered him on.
He had resigned from the job, although we later found out that he never actually resigned, but had agreed with the Eskom board on an early retirement package, after a mere 18 months on the job, and R30 million in a dubious payout.
A month earlier, on April 19, TV cameras rolled for more than three hours as, first, musicians heroworshipped recently fired SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng for his decision to give their music a bigger platform.
When Motsoeneng did eventually speak, he said he was puzzled by why his 90% content plan across 18 SABC radio stations and 80% local content on SABC TV was not getting more support.
“There’s nothing wrong with local content. All South Africans should support local content.
“We want to see black and white benefiting from 90% and all the business it brings. Why would people want The Bold & The Beautiful when they can have local?” he asked.
Perhaps wanting to follow the example of Molefe, who became an ANC branch member and MP overnight – albeit briefly – Motsoeneng added that he was tempted to enter politics and that he wouldn’t struggle for support as he “represents the majority”.
Just like for all populists, the stories of Molefe and Motsoeneng have the same ending.
Motsoeneng was fired from the SABC for holding the very same press conference where he was praised.
And Molefe was fired from the power utility after the ANC he represented in Parliament decided that his stay could not be justified.
Both are pursuing separate legal routes to get their jobs back. It will be a tough task convincing the courts that their expulsions were not valid.
Molefe is no longer surrounded by the Eskom staff members who sang “uyeza uPapa Action [Papa Action is coming]” and Motsoeneng no longer has the backing of the artists whose music he tried to force upon South Africans.
In their hour of need, both are lonely and only have the brown walls of courtrooms for inspiration.
Just like for all populists, the stories of Molefe and Motsoeneng have the same ending