SABC’s Hlaudi Motsoeneng ‘guilty’

2013-11-24 14:00

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Public Protector slams widespread abuse of power at public broadcaster

A “damning” provisional report by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has decried the abuse of power and maladministration by senior executives and former board members of the SABC.

City Press has seen the recommendations made in the report, which slams “unlawful” behaviour by the SABC’s acting chief operating officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, and “improper conduct” by group chief executive officer Lulama Mokhobo.

The report, provisionally titled The Blame Game, which has left the SABC reeling this week, also recommends that:

»?Motsoeneng face disciplinary action and pay back irregular salary increases, and that his position should be filled by a qualified person;

»?Mokhobo should be brought to book for her “abuse of power and improper conduct” in appointing Motsoeneng;

»?Dina Pule should face censure by Parliament for “issuing unlawful orders”; and

»?Former chairperson of the SABC board Ben Ngubane should face disciplinary action for “abuse of power and improper conduct” for, among other things, hiking Motsoeneng’s salary to R2.7?million a year.

Madonsela’s investigation began early last year after complaints from disgruntled SABC staff members. The report lists 14 current and former staff members who were suspended or fired unfairly.

The report also lambasts the “fruitless and wasteful expenditure” on drawn-out labour disputes with these employees and recommends that the SABC publicly apologise to them.

But that’s just for starters. The report also slams current executives as well as Pule and the former board.

»?Dina Pule

Dina Pule. Picture: Herman Verwey/City Press

Dina Pule’s post-politics headache continues to worsen. On Thursday, she faces the release of another Public Protector report into the controversial ICT indaba involving her boyfriend Phosane Mngqibisa.

The Blame Game report accuses her of giving “unlawful orders to the SABC Board and staff”, and influencing the appointment of suspended chief financial officer (CFO) Gugu Duda.

It says Pule improperly rejected the board’s choice of CFO. Thereafter, communications department official Themba Phiri sent Duda’s CV to Motsoeneng, who ordered that Duda be interviewed. She was then appointed.

The report says Pule’s conduct “amounts to abuse of power”. It asks Parliament’s ethics committee to take note of its findings and Minister ­Yunus Carrim “to institute ­disciplinary proceedings against Themba Phiri”.

It also says Parliament must “take urgent steps to fill the long outstanding vacant position of the Chief Executive Officer with a suitably ­qualified permanent incumbent within 90 days of this report”.

City Press assumes that the position being referred to is that of Chief Operations Officer (COO) as the CEO position is already filled, while ­Motsoeneng is the acting COO.

»?Hlaudi Motsoeneng

Motsoeneng is a pivotal figure in the report. Aside from claims surrounding his appointment of the CFO, his lack of qualifications?–?he has no matric – is mentioned as well as his salary, which jumped from R1.4?million to an annual R2.7?million in just a year.

The report recommends “appropriate disciplinary action for his abuse of power and improper conduct in

the appointments and salary increments of Ms Sully Motsweni; misrepresentation of his qualifications as well as his role in the purging of staff members”.

Motsoeneng’s close associate, Motsweni, was promoted from manager to executive with a salary hike from R79?000 to R130?000 a month. Human resources processes were not followed, for which the report blames human capital services executive Thabiso Lesala.

»?Ben Ngubane

Ben Ngubane.

The former SABC board chair is castigated for being dishonest about Motsoeneng’s qualifications and enabling his salary hike. Ngubane was supposed to be a nonexecutive, yet meddled in executive functions.

“The Board was dysfunctional and on their watch allowed Dr Ngubane

to effectively perform the function of an Executive Chairperson by recommending the appointment of Mr Motsoeneng?...?as well as authorising numerous salary increments.”

It recommends disciplinary action against him.

» Lulama Mokhobo

Lulama Mokhobo. Picture: Brett Steele

Group CEO Lulama Mokhobo is also accused of maladministration.

The report recommends disciplinary action against her “for her abuse of power and improper conduct in the appointments and salary increments of Mr Motsoeneng and Ms Motsweni”.

The board is also urged to “recover all monies irregularly spent through unlawful and improper actions”, as well as the salary hikes of Motsoeneng and Motsweni. It gives Carrim and the current SABC board 30 days from the date of the final report to submit a plan detailing how it will implement the recommendations.

»?What they say

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said: “We are not responding to the report as it is still a draft. We are of an opinion that this report is still classified until the final report, which might be very different from the draft, after the comments from the affected individuals. We will await the final report after it is made public.”

Minister Carrim is on record as saying the department will exercise more strategic oversight over the SABC in future.

His spokesperson, Siya Qoza, said: “We respectfully decline to comment on a provisional report.

“We’ll reserve our comment for after we have received and studied the final report.”

Public Protector spokesperson Oupa Segalwe said the report was only provisional and feedback was expected by Friday.

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