SABC in uproar as news team recalled
● A group of senior SABC journalists has complained to the public broadcaster’s management about a decision to ground the presidential corps, in favour of an international news agency.
SABC insiders said the group raised its concerns during a meeting attended by head of news Phathiswa Magopeni, TV news boss Nothando Maseko and her radio news counterpart, Sebolelo Ditlhakanyane.
Also present was foreign editor and acting political editor Sophie Mokoena.
The group, which includes reporters Mzwandile Mbeje, Ntebo Mokobo and Tshepo Ikaneng, said the decision to assign the Foreign Service Network to cover President Cyril Ramaphosa was not viable as the footage would not be for SABC exclusively.
Group members also claimed the Presidency had complained that using foreign reporters to cover Ramaphosa compromised his security as his travelling details were shared with people who had not been vetted. However, Ramaphosa’s spokeswoman, Khusela Diko, denied this.
In addition, the group complained about Mokoena’s leadership style, citing a decision to recall an SABC team after it failed to record Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula landing in Angola. The team was meant to leave Angola for Mauritania, but instead Mokoena went.
But others said Mokoena was correct to recall the group as members had “misbehaved” during the Angola trip.
“They were there to cover the minister; how do you explain missing her arrival?”
Mokoena is said to have resigned from her acting role during Monday’s meeting.
She told the Sunday Times that there was a “patriarchal” agenda to get rid of her because she is a woman.
She said her pulling out of her acting political editorship was “no train smash” as it was not a permanent appointment.
SABC management is said to have promised to appoint an interim political editor by midday on Wednesday.
“But so far we have been on autopilot in the political desk, which is not going to work, especially given that we are heading to elections next year and there is a Brics summit coming up on July 25,” said an insider. “We need stability and direction.”
SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago declined to comment, saying the matter was internal.
Mbeje, Mokobo and Ikaneng also declined to comment.
Mokoena said there was “always” a ploy to remove her from the politics desk whenever elections were looming.
“I am tired of you South African men, in particular you male journalists, for mistreating and conniving against me since 1994 because I am the first female to be in that political field and to this day you men are fighting me,” she said.
“Every time towards the elections there must be this thing. The intention is nothing else but patriarchy in the media.”
I am tired of you SA men . . . mistreating and conniving against me since 1994 because I am the first female . . . in that political field Sophie Mokoena
Foreign editor and acting political editor