The former editor of The Citizen, Steve Motale, will meet his former employers in the Labour court on January 19 to contest his suspension and subsequent dismissal in November last year.
Motale was initially suspended and later fired, following several articles into damning allegations against former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.
The paper ran a series of reports into a probe by the Hawks into Manuel’s role into the irregular awarding of tenders at SARS. It said he had approved a contract at SARS worth R100m without following due process. Gordhan was commissioner of SARS at the time. http://citizen.co.za/news/news-national/1320364/listen-dont-fing-bother-manuel-says/
Motale also gave former SABC boss, Hlaudi Motsoeneng a platform to respond to the criticism lodged against him by Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu.
In a statement explaining why it had fired him, The Citizen said Motale had failed to adhere to “agreed-upon editorial processes” and had been dismissed following an internal disciplinary hearing. It added: “This matter was not about the stories published in The Citizen. On the contrary, The Citizen upholds the highest standards of editorial freedom.”
Questions have been asked about the said disciplinary hearing following leaks that it didnt take place.
UnCensored sent a series of questions to Citizen’s Publisher Eureka Zandberg to clear the matter of the internal disciplinary hearing.
Here are the questions sent to Citizen’s publisher.
(1) Date & time of the disciplinary hearing
(2) Who attended
(3) Who chaired the disciplinary hearing
(4) What are the Citizen’s editorial procedures
(5) How did Steve Motale violate these procedures
(6) In your statement you say the Citizen “upholds the highest
standards of editorial freedom”. Can you elaborate further on this
statement. And are you still willing to stand by it?
During a telephonic discussion prior to sending her questions, Zandberg seemed unsure of what her response would be: “I dont know if I will want to respond or not…..just send the questions….. I might send them to someone or simply refuse to respond…..Send the questions, I might just send you the statement we posted on our website”.
Zandberg finally settled on the usual trite response from respondents in legal cases. “As you may be aware, Mr Motale has brought a case in the Labour Court, which is due to be heard towards the end of January 2017. Thus, we will not be able to respond to your questions, given that the matter is subject to legal proceedings”.
The Forum of Jounalists for Transformation (FJT) on 10 November 2016, following Motale’s suspension, issued a statement in which it claimed the articles were the reason for Motale’s suspension.
It further alleged that an executive at Citizen had pushed for Motale’s sacking even going so far as offering him a golden handshake which Motale turned down. It is believed he was offered a six-months salary package to leave his editorship with conditions attached. The former editor declined.
It is believed The Citizen will be hard pressed to prove some of the claims it made in its statement explaining his sacking, editorial independence being the hardest it will prove from the evidence to be presented.