Hlaudi Motsoeneng is special. Special, special, special. Special like no one else. It’s not just the chutzpah, the arrogance, the thick skin, the divinity which he ascribes to himself. It takes a special kind of person to get the Public Protector, the ANC, the DA and the Presidency to all agree that they don’t like you. And then to emerge out of it laughing, winking, cracking jokes, stealing funerals. He is, in some ways, the worst that we as South Africa have to offer in the Zuma era. And that’s before we even start on the “concerned citizen” brought in to bolster his legal case. Who is a fugitive from the US. Folks, I’m not Richard Poplak. But what you are about to read may just completely and utterly warp your sense of reality. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
I cannot count the number of times I’ve been to a press conference at Auckland Park. It’s a building I know well (okay, I should admit this, but please, don’t tell anyone. I once worked at the SABC. In 1997. As a student, and then as a paid “ordinary employee” for all of two months.). Over the years, its relationship with reality, with political gravity, with the rest of us, has grown more and more detached. There was the time when Dali Mpofu came in laughing, as he was walking out with R11-million. The time the entire SABC board sat in the front row of a theatre, simply because President Jacob Zuma was speaking there. Last time I was there, Frans Matlala was being appointed CEO. And we still don’t really know exactly which black hole swallowed him up.
This time, as Hlaudi waltzed in (he has become a single
Eventually, after a bit of waffle and the whole bit, the chair of the SABC, Professor Mbulaheni Maguvhe got up to speak. In case you watched it on TV, I should just mention that he is blind, and there is, in most societies including ours, a certain protocol for blind people. In this case, quite rightly, he sat closest to the podium, was guided to his seat and so on.
Okay then. I’m sure the ANC and the Presidency and the DA and the Public Protector will sit back and think, “Of course, that’s okay!
Then, the acting Chief Group Chief Executive Officer of the SABC (everyone at the SABC acts, but you already knew their flair for cheap drama), James Aguma, took his turn. He explained how seriously the SABC takes the law. How seriously it takes the Public Finance Management Act.
“I want to applaud the people who recognise this wonderful person called Hlaudi,” was the start. Then, “Everywhere I go everyone supports Hlaudi, it’s worse in the rural areas. I’m here in Gauteng to change the mindset people who believe if you come from rural areas you can’t achieve.” Then, “You are going to know about this position, corporate affairs. It is going to be funny, I’m going to enjoy that position.”
If anyone else in our public life had said this, we would have started to be concerned. We would have reached for Google to find out what mental health facilities are available nearby. But this is not
“I believe in myself. I believe everywhere that I am I do miracles. And I am going to do those miracles in the position that I am going to occupy.”
You heard it here first, folks. Hlaudi Motsoeneng is immortal. Soon he will be turning water into wine.
And the SABC really is very lucky. Because Hlaudi is “going to re-apply” for his old job back, to become, once again, the Chief Operating Officer of the SABC. Well, with someone this divine in this position, presumably Jesus will now take his leave of Tshwane, Joburg and Nelson Mandela Bay.
But the lunacy was not over yet. Even by the standards of the SABC, this was farce dressed up as
Then came a presentation introduced to us assembled hacks as from a “concerned citizen”, a person with legal knowledge, who wanted to provide us with his own interpretation of the Judge Dennis Davis ruling. It was about the Latin of the law, how we should all respect it, and how poor old
The name of this “concerned citizen” is Paul Ngobeni. Now, Ngobeni has a back story. We’ve had some shady legal people in our time. A judge who got drunk and drove through a wall, senior advocates who took hundreds of thousands of rand from accident victims, the awful attorney Ronald Bobroff who has scarpered off to Australia.
Ngobeni tops them all. Not in his knowledge of the law. In the fact that he is actually on the run from the law. Uniquely among all of my experience, Ngobeni passes himself off as a legal expert (from time to time on the SABC) but
Now, gentle reader, I realise that I do have at times a combative
“And for Mr Ngobeni, your name is still on the list of those wanted by authorities in the US… you are a wanted person in the US, can we presume you are the right person to give us a lecture on the law?”
For me, this was the only way to end this nonsense. You put up a person to say certain things in a press conference, you give him a certain legal weight, then the forum to end this is right there. It’s the only time you will have exactly the same audience as the one who heard him make the original comments.
And, to sound a little more like Richard Poplak for a moment, don’t fucking insult me. Did you think I’d forget that you’re a wanted felon? Did Hlaudi and Co not bother to google him first, before putting him in front of a group of journalists, who on your own version have an axe to grind? Or they just don’t give a crap?
And don’t just think it’s people like me. Ngobeni got fired by then Intelligence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu for writing a letter claiming Trevor Manuel thought he was the “king of coloureds” and supporting Mzwanele (Jimmy)
This is the kind of man we are now dealing with. And this is the man who was there to explain just how Hlaudi Motsoeneng is a hero, and a High Court Judge was, well, the opposite.
Anyway, Ngobeni is a side-show, who has a right to remain as “concerned” as he likes. Let’s hope he plays no further role in this, or anything else of substance in South Africa these days.
But this drama is nowhere near over. When asked who made the decision to re-appoint Hlaudi,
And so, gentle reader, it is time to draw the curtains, to slowly leave the gravitational well of Auckland Park, and slowly make our way back to
“I’m not going there. Don’t spoil the party, man. Now you’re talking about employee employment issues. Pause there. I’m not going there.”
There is something else that makes Hlaudi The Special One. The Arrogance. DM
Photo: SABC Group Executive for Corporate Affairs, Hlaudi Motsoeneng.