Motsoeneng and Tshabalala: Fortunes are linked

2014-10-26 06:00

It was rather apt that among those present in court to support SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng were the famous poo-throwers Andile Lili and Loyiso Nkohla.

It was probably also apt there was also a priest and a traditional healer among the band of fans.

Motsoeneng needed all the support he could get and each of these people served a purpose: the poo experts to help dig him out of the deep dung he finds himself in, the priest to keep his enemies’ demons at bay and the traditional healer to provide him with the muti to enhance his invincibility.

As it turned out, none of them were able to save him from sinking further into the sewer.

Western Cape High Court Judge Ashton Schippers’ verdict was firm and direct. Motsoeneng should immediately be suspended, face disciplinary action within 14 days and the case concluded within 60 days.

All that was left was bravado. He and his supporters went out on to the court steps and triumphantly addressed the media as though they were the victors.

“This is not the end. This is the beginning. I still believe I am innocent and I am excited because I know this is just politicking. I have instructed my lawyers to appeal with immediate effect,” said Motsoeneng.

A lot is at stake for the man who lied about having a matric certificate.

His meteoric rise to becoming the most powerful broadcast boss in South Africa has come with an equally dramatic hike in salary – from R300?000 in 2010 to his current R2.8?million.

This rise included a jump from R1.61?million to R2.4?million between 2011 and 2012. Motsoeneng himself approved most of these hikes while he was the SABC’s acting chief operations officer.

His supporters were just as belligerent in his defence.

“Why should he be punished for doubling his salary?” asked Lili, insisting that it still needed to be explained how money had been misspent.

Motsoeneng’s fate is now in the hands of the SABC board, which must approve funding for his appeal challenge. It should not prove too difficult to get an endorsement from a board that is headed by Ellen Tshabalala.

She herself is covered in the stuff that Lili and Nkohla love carrying around.

Tshabalala, who was quite decorative on her CV, was also in court this week for somewhat similar reasons to Motsoeneng. She wants the court to stop Parliament’s communications portfolio committee from asking her to prove she has the qualifications she claims she has.

“It is not for me to prove my innocence, but for those accusing me of misconduct to prove my guilt,” said the lady about her refusal to produce the paperwork that will prove Unisa is wrong when it says she does not have any degree from the institution.

Like Motsoeneng, she has retained top-dollar lawyer Norman Arendse – presumably at the SABC’s expense – to help her prove she does not have to provide proof about the degrees.

Nearly four months after she promised to provide the proof, two months after she claimed she must have lost the original in a burglary, two months after she was axed from the Transnet for not being able to supply them with proof of her qualifications, she is playing the poor victim who is being harassed.

The fortunes of the two artful dodgers are now linked to each other. Motsoeneng needs Tshabalala to hang on to her job as long as possible to provide him with corporate cover by riding roughshod over the rest of the board.

Tshabalala needs to hang on to her position long enough to rack up more board fees as this line of work seems to be her steady source of income.

She can certainly help Motsoeneng in the short term, even if it is just to endorse his appeal funding.

But at this point, there is not much he can do to help her. Her fate is totally dependent on finding that piece of paper.

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