Give me R16 million or my job back – Former SABC COO

Former SABC COO Chris Maroleng has submitted papers to the Johannesburg Labour Court which demand the SABC pay him R16 million or give him his job back.

This is according to a report in the City Press.

Maroleng was dismissed in April 2019, after being appointed in January 2018. Maroleng claims the SABC did not offer him the chance to appeal what he claims was an unfair disciplinary process which led to his dismissal.

According to the SABC, Maroleng was found guilty of breaching his fiduciary duties as well as negligence.

“The unlawful and summary dismissal and ultimate termination of the applicant’s contract of employment by the respondent constituted a breach of the respondent’s contractual obligation to address allegations of misconduct against the applicant,” said an affidavit filed by Maroleng’s lawyers.

Maroleng claimed other executives were also dismissed in a similar way, accusing SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe of “conspiring against him.”

He cited another affidavit by James Shikwambana – a former manager at SABC – as further evidence of the SABC’s alleged conspiracy.

“Chair, we must build a case against this guy [Maroleng],” Shikwambana quotes Mxakwe telling the chair of the SABC board.

“I was very shocked because he was less than a month in office,” Shikwambana said.

Maroleng told the City Press: “I am looking to the courts to clear my name and reputation as we have put out in the court papers that the manner that things were done was untowards”.

SABC responds

The SABC said it was not aware that Maroleng had filed court papers against it.

“The SABC can confirm that Maroleng faced serious charges which prompted the SABC to conduct a disciplinary process,” said the SABC.

It added that it terminated Maroleng’s contract on 23 April 2019 following consideration of the findings of a disciplinary process.

“Following this decision, Maroleng approached the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration – but later withdrew his arbitration case.”

“Should the SABC receive court papers from Maroleng, the corporation will respond accordingly.”

SABC bailout

Maroleng’s submission to be paid R16 million comes in the midst of the SABC suffering significant financial problems.

To this end, the SABC has been allocated a R3.2-billion government bailout, the final R1.1 billion of which is expected to be paid before the end of March.

The government informed the SABC board it would allocate the bailout in phases, subject to conditions of its turnaround strategy being met.

These conditions included the reviewal of broadcasting sector policies to respond to technological advances, and evaluating opportunities for private-sector participation.

Part of the SABC’s financial issues have also been put down to “irregular advertiser discounts” – which reportedly cost the SABC at least R1.5 billion between January 2018 and June 2019.

Discounts were reportedly as high as 85% in some cases, and at least 17 junior account executives and senior managers were said to have ignored various rules to grant them.

One employee was also accused of providing confidential information to his wife – who was running an agency which advertised with the SABC.

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Give me R16 million or my job back – Former SABC COO