SABC bosses in ugly fight

Fur flies be­tween Ukhozi FM man­agers over claims of friends in high places

Sunday World - - Front Page - By Aubrey Mothombeni moth­ombe­[email protected]­day­world.co.za

SABC board chair Bongu­musa Makha­tini is al­legedly em­broiled in a bit­ter womanto-woman bat­tle over con­trol of the pub­lic broad­caster’s big­gest ra­dio sta­tion, Ukhozi FM. So in­tense was the bat­tle for the pow­er­ful ra­dio sta­tion by num­bers that its pro­gramme man­ager Zandile Tembe was this week hauled over the coals for de­fy­ing in­struc­tions from her boss, mar­ket­ing man­ager and now act­ing sta­tion man­ager Sbongi Ng­cobo.

The fight be­tween the two women al­legedly started af­ter the pub­lic broad­caster pro­moted the sta­tion’s then man­ager Bonga Mpanza to provin­cial gen­eral man­ager for KwaZulu-Natal. In­sid­ers al­lege that Tembe had ex­pec­ta­tions that she was due to take over the run­ning of the sta­tion from him but the SABC bosses went for Ng­cobo.

This, ac­cord­ing to two SABC se­nior ex­ec­u­tives close to the mat­ter, left Tembe fum­ing, claim­ing she was side­lined de­spite be­ing the most qual­i­fied, ex­pe­ri­enced and an “au­to­matic” suc­ces­sor to Mpanza.

The man­agers re­vealed that since the ap­point­ment in Fe­bru­ary this year, Tembe wrote sev­eral cor­re­spon­dences to Makha­tini, who in turn for­warded the let­ters to se­nior ex­ec­u­tives, al­legedly ask­ing them to in­ter­vene on the mat­ter.

Among the is­sues raised by Tembe, ac­cord­ing to one of the ex­ec­u­tives, were al­le­ga­tions that there was favouritism and pos­si­ble con­flict of in­ter­est in Ng­cobo’s ap­point­ment. They said Tembe claimed Ng­cobo was hand-picked by Mpanza, her al­leged friend, for the ap­point­ment.

Sun­day World has learnt that in her fight­back, Ng­cobo wrote to Mpanza com­plain­ing about Tembe’s con­duct in­clud­ing claims that she was de­fy­ing her in­struc­tions.

While look­ing into the com­plaint, two se­nior man­agers at the SABC head of­fice in Auck­land Park, head of prov­inces Leuba Ra­mak­golo and group ex­ec­u­tive for ra­dio Nada Bot­shela, opted to charge Tembe with in­sub­or­di­na­tion.

Sun­day World un­der­stands a charge of vi­o­lat­ing the SABC’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion poli­cies was added be­cause Tembe al­legedly ig­nored pro­ce­dures in re­port­ing griev­ances by writ­ing let­ters to the board chair in­stead of tak­ing the mat­ter to Mpanza.

The mat­ter was sup­posed to be el­e­vated to the head of prov­inces, then group ex­ec­u­tive for ra­dio and if that still failed, taken to SABC COO Chris Maroleng be­fore reach­ing the board. “She jumped ev­ery­one and went straight to the board, which pro­ce­du­rally is mis­con­duct, hence they are tak­ing ac­tion against her,” said the ex­ec­u­tive.

An­other em­ployee said Makha­tini’s call for in­ter­ven­tion on is­sues raised by Tembe was in­ter­preted as an in­struc­tion to ad­dress them in her favour.

How­ever, an­other man­ager dis­puted that Makha­tini was tak­ing sides, say­ing Makha­tini was not aware Tembe had not fol­lowed pro­ce­dure and had thought she had come to him as a last re­sort.

“All the e-mails he re­ceived from Zandile are now be­ing used at the dis­ci­plinary hear­ing, and he has not tried to in­flu­ence the process. He is fair.”

Tembe, Mpanza and Ng­cobo re­fused to com­ment, re­fer­ring ques­tions to the SABC.

SABC spokesper­son Neo Mo­modu said: “Mat­ters be­tween the SABC and its em­ploy­ees are con­fi­den­tial … the or­gan­i­sa­tion has poli­cies that en­able ef­fec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels be­tween man­agers and their sub­or­di­nates, in­clud­ing up­ward re­fer­rals for con­flict res­o­lu­tion … These poli­cies how­ever, pre­clude di­rect com­mu­ni­ca­tion with board mem­bers with­out hav­ing first en­gaged and ex­hausted all com­mu­ni­ca­tion and/or con­flict res­o­lu­tion pro­cesses at an op­er­a­tional level.” She said the SABC was not aware of the na­ture of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Tembe and Makhathini.

Ukhozi FM act­ing sta­tion man­ager Sbongi Ng­cobo and pro­gramme man­ager Zandile Tembe.

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