The Congress of the People (Cope) wants former acting South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) CEO Jimi Matthews to account to Parliament on his role in “manipulating and corrupting the SABC newsroom”.
The party’s Dennis Bloem also said the ad hoc committee probing the crisis at the public broadcaster‚ which concluded its sessions for the year last Thursday‚ should call former board chairs Ben Ngubane and Ellen Tshabalala.
Ngubane and Tshabalala‚ committee chairperson Vincent Smith said last week‚ will top the list of witnesses when it resumes its inquiry in January.
Bloem said of Matthews that his “name has been constantly mentioned by witnesses‚ especially by the so-called SABC8” — the name given to eight journalists axed then reinstated by the SABC after their opposition to a protest coverage blackout.
“Very serious allegations were made against Matthews regarding how he was part of the unethical corrupt behaviour‚ including instructing journalists to do wrong things and also threatened journalists that they will lose their jobs if they don’t want to follow his unlawful instructions‚” he said.
“It was also reported that his famous words were: ‘If you don’t want to listen to my instructions‚ you can choose the door or the window‚ whichever is closest to you’‚” said Bloem.
SAfm producer Krivani Pillay testified to the committee last week that Matthews had told staff to staff: “It’s cold outside… you’ve got two choices‚ the door or the window.”
Bloem said that when “Matthews announced his resignation a few months ago‚ he said he can’t continue supporting unethical conduct that is going on in the SABC”.
“He also said that the time will come where he will have the opportunity to tell the country the reasons for his decision. We now say this would be a great opportunity for Matthews tell his story‚” Bloem added.
In his resignation letter in June‚ Matthews wrote: “For many months I have compromised the values I hold dear under the mistaken belief that I could be more effective inside the SABC than outside‚ passing comment from the side-lines.
“In the process the prevailing‚ corrosive atmosphere has impacted negatively on my moral judgment and has made me complicit in many decision which I am not proud of.”
Bloem said that‚ “if Parliament wants to clean up the rot in the SABC‚ then the committee must not only concentrate” on controversial executive Hlaudi Motsoeneng.
“We believe that the committee should look broader at all those who were instrumental in helping Hlaudi destroy the public broadcaster‚” he added.