Award-winning sportscaster Robert Marawa presented his show #MSW for the last three months as if his life depended on it, but deep down he knew his days at the SABC were numbered as his contract would not be renewed when it expired at the end of last month.
Ironically, a few hours after the SABC announced his departure in a statement, Marawa scooped Best Sports Show of the Year at the SA Radio Awards.
We have learnt Marawa could be replaced by Udo Carelse on Radio 2000 while Metro FM is still looking for a replacement.
A top executive at the SABC said the initial plan was to move Thabiso Mosia from SAFM to Radio 2000, but the acting station manager thwarted the move arguing they could not lose Mosia, especially after talk show host Phemelo Motene left.
“Owen Hannie [a sports presenter on Metro FM] has come out strongly as the potential candidate to anchor the show on Metro FM,” the source said.
The source claimed that Marawa had again fallen victim to political interference and a power struggle within the public broadcaster. According to another source, the SABC cited the financial quagmire it was facing as one of the reasons it was not renewing Marawa’s contract.
“They brought the issue of Section 189 that got many employees retrenched,” said the source.
The source also claimed that before the decision was taken the management team, which includes the head of radio, the acting station manager and their programmes managers met to discuss Marawa’s show. They argued that it cost the SABC R22 000 a day and more than R5 million annually to pay Marawa, a content producer, two technical producers and person who does promos, according to an insider. “All the expenses are put on Robert’s shoulders. It was also argued that the show has never broken even because it only brings in just over R2 million,” the source said.
However, Marawa dismissed these claims saying he only had three team members. “Nothing was ever communicated to me about anything. #MSW [Marawa Sports Worldwide] brought them an audience and revenue and we were a small team of three people … So they shouldn’t lie about us costing them [a lot of money] … they have a sales department for that,” Marawa said.
He confirmed to City Press that he was told three months ago that his contract would not be renewed. “But I continued doing a professional job until the end! They decided to send out a one-sided press statement [about me leaving]. Then when they saw the [public] backlash they canned my last show three hours before going on air! What were they afraid of?”
A third source, who claimed he tried to defend Marawa’s show during the heated meeting when all the shows were being reviewed early this year, said the decision had nothing to do with financial difficulties the SABC faced but “a personal vendetta from politicians and certain top individuals at the SABC”.
“If you remember, when Robert left back in 2017, Udo Carelse and Andile Ncube took over as sports presenters at the two radio stations and were paid a combined salary R4 000 more than what Robert is being paid now.
“And if you add their producers’ salaries, it’s the same amount that Robert’s team is getting if not more. The difference is, the presenters who replaced him caused the listenership to drop dramatically and the reappointment of Robert in 2019 brought the numbers up again,” claimed the source.
Before the dramatic end of the day on Friday, the SABC released a statement announcing the departure of Marawa and Morning Live sports presenter Vaylen Kirtley.
Marawa took to social media to show the SMS which told him not to bother reporting for duty for his last show on Friday night.
So after serving the Public Broadcaster through time, I am sent yet another text from a person in an "acting" position informing me of this.👇🏾👇🏾
Same modus operandi as SS.
What do they fear about the last Show??
— robertmarawa (@robertmarawa) July 30, 2021