Politics claim SABC head of news

Pubcaster still in turmoil

JOHANNESBURG — The South African Broadcasting Corp. is still in turmoil a week after the suspension of its topper.

CEO Dali Mpofu was sent home on full pay the day after he suspended head of news, Snuki Zikalala, for allegedly leaking sensitive documents.

The pubcaster’s board ordered Mpofu to reinstate Zikalala, then grounded him when he refused and accused him of failing to implement its decisions. In retaliation, Mpofu launched a challenge to his suspension in the Johannesburg High Court May 15.

Trouble has been brewing at the pubcaster for several months  after it got caught up between President Thabo Mbeki and challenger Jacob Zuma in the bitter battle for leadership of the ruling African National Congress. Zuma’s supporters claim SABC reporting favors Mbeki, who appoints the pubcaster’s board.

However, Mpofu had become closer to the Zuma faction and that may have motivated the decision of the board, which backs Zikalala. The CEO’s performance was criticized by the board in a memo leaked to the media this month.

Meanwhile, ANC members who back Zuma, including trade union federation Cosatu and the ANC Youth League,  have been calling for the board to resign.

This is Zikalala’s second stint as head of news at the SABC. He was forced out in 2002 by then CEO Peter Matlare because it was felt his pro-ANC stance colored his impartiality.

SABC commercial enterprises group exec Gabriel Mampone is acting CEO. TV news and current affairs head Amrit Manga is standing in for Zikalala.

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