SABC execs in suspension fracas

Board members unhappy at S. African network

JOHANNESBURG — South African Broadcasting Corp. head of news Snuki Zikalala got his job back Tuesday as the man who suspended him, CEO Dali Mpofu, was returned to court fighting to have his third suspension in two months overturned.

Mpofu suspended Zikalala on May 6, accusing him of leaking confidential documents to the media, and was himself suspended by the pro-Zikalala SABC board the following day for “refusing to obey the board’s instructions.”

On Monday Zikalala appealed to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, alleging unfair dismissal.

CCMA director Nerine Kahn said “they had agreed on a way of dealing with his case.”

She would not give more details but said the reasons for the suspension “had to be dealt with. A person could not be unconditionally reinstated.”

On Tuesday SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago confirmed that Zikalala’s suspension had been lifted “with immediate effect” adding, “Zikalala has been given special leave for two weeks. Both parties agreed that the conciliation process will continue and will meet again on July 21.”

His return was welcomed by board chairman Khanisiwe Mkonza, who said Zikalala’s suspension was “invalid and unlawful” and that Mpofu did not have the authority to sack Zikalala.

Meanwhile, Judge Antonie Gildenhuys of the Johannesburg High Court started hearing arguments from Mpofu’s legal team that his third suspension was invalid. The court has already ruled that his earlier suspensions were invalid and refused the SABC board leave to appeal. The case continues.

The pubcaster has become embroiled in the political battle for control of the ANC between President Thabo Mbeki and challenger Jacob Zuma, with Zikalala accused of being biased toward Mbeki.

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