The other day a friend remarked that I was obsessed with the South African media. Maybe I am. Most of the media stories posted here are on SA. There are three main reasons why. The first is the sheer vibrance of the SA media. Two is that the country has many parallels with my country (many ethnic groups, a regional economic giant, former British colony, and gyrates to similar political music).
There are major differences, of course, but the parallels are significant. For example, President Thabo Mbeki is serving his last few months in office, the same as Kibaki (we thought he had a few months to go last year, and some still feel nothing really changed). The presumed incoming presidents (Zuma in SA and Raila in Kenya) share a history of persecution and are seen as radically different from the incumbents.
Heck! Graca Machel, Madiba's wife, even visited Nairobi quite a few times in January and February to persuade us that killing each other was not really a sport. A few years back, it was Prof Washington Jalang'o, a Kenyan, who convinced IFP and ANC leaders that their adversary was laughing on the sidelines as they squared with each other.
The third reason is esoteric: I have a few friends in SA who care about the media and current affairs. Today, my post will focus on SABC, where I have a few friends. Any similarities with the backside, front, head or sole of any media house, real, imagined, living or dead, in Kenya and elsewhere, are purely coincidental. My gut feeling is that a media house near you will undergo similar gyrations very soon.
I will quote from my favourite SA newspaper, Mail & Guardian. The update is that Mpofu has now been suspended.
Celebrity SABC boss Mpofu splits board
Ferial Hafajee and Kwanele Sosibo | Johannesburg, South Africa
21 April 2008 08:09
The opposing forces in the SABC boardroom battle became clearer this week: CEO Dali Mpofu is up against board chairperson Khanyi Mkonza and her deputy Christine Qunta, who want him axed, while his supporters include businessman Peter Vundla, President Thabo Mbeki’s former spokesperson Bheki Khumalo and electoral commission chief Pansy Tlakula.
Mpofu’s future, and that of the SABC board, will be on the agenda when the broadcaster appears before Parliament early next month.
The board is deeply split on Mpofu. Mkonza and Qunta accuse him of being an absentee CEO and failing to make key staff appointments, and hold him personally responsible for losing football and cricket broadcasting rights and tabling a loss-making budget for the next financial year.