'MultiChoice CEO told me I was mad, but it was good madness' - Hlaudi Motsoeneng

Hlaudi Motsoeneng at the state capture inquiry.
Hlaudi Motsoeneng at the state capture inquiry.
Image: Antonio Muchave

Former SABC executive Hlaudi Motsoeneng on Thursday boasted about how he strong-armed MultiChoice into funding the public broadcaster's 24-hour news channel.

Testifying at the state capture inquiry for the third day, Motsoeneng said former SABC chief executive Lulama Mokhobo and then board chairman Ben Ngubane failed in their bid to get MultiChoice to sponsor a channel for SABC news.

Motsoeneng then asked to take a crack at the negotiations, according to him.

"I went and engaged them, it was not easy. We were fighting, because when I approached the CEO of MultiChoice, he said to me sometimes it seems like you are mad. I said it’s a good madness because it’s in the interest of the SABC.

"That meeting didn’t go well. He left the meeting. Now I was in trouble, because I was not achieving what I wanted to achieve ... I had to find a way so that I could engage him again," he said.

In a second meeting, Motsoeneng said he proposed that MultiChoice host the SABC's 24-hour news channel on DStv as a pilot project, until the SABC completed its digital migration project.

MultiChoice agreed, hosting the channel and another called SABC Encore.

"When you talk about my legacy, it is those two channels and the employment of people," he said. Asked what was in it for MultiChoice, Motsoeneng said "nothing".

In 2015, it emerged that as part of the deal, the SABC undertook to back MultiChoice’s position on digital migration, which involved set-top boxes to convert the digital signal to analogue after migration not being encrypted.

Motsoeneng received an R11m success fee for concluding the negotiations, a matter which is now the subject of litigation.


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